Strong performance from Dawson’s graduating theatre class
by Sam Schmidt
REVIEW: The Professional Theatre Program of Dawson College presented The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller and directed by Winston Sutton. Success is the first word that comes to mind after seeing this play. I can truly say that this production kept the audience wanting more; the plot was captivating and the acting professional.
The play starts with an attention grabber; the audience is already on the edge of their seats as women are chanting and dancing around a fire. The lighting is dark and the music creates an adrenaline rush. The audience does not know what the women are doing, but you can assume that they are calling some sort of spirit. At one point, a woman runs across stage topless. Maybe it was a spur of the moment kind of thing, or maybe she just likes to run naked in the woods, but the audience was watching attentively (I know I was!).
The plot and characters were easy to follow so that the audience was not left to wonder about what was happening. Set in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts, the plot moves at a brisk pace and the audience quickly learns that the protagonist, John Proctor (Patrick Rogers), is the object of young and wicked Abigail Williams’ (Shannon Tosic-McNally) desire. She will stop at nothing to recapture the heart of this married man, even if it means accusing others of witchcraft and igniting the deadly flames of hysteria, a paranoia that will ultimately lead many to the gallows.
Rogers was the star of the show playing a respected farmer and husband. He knows that the allegations of witchcraft are vengeful lies concocted by Abigail, the girl with whom he committed adultery. He struggles throughout the play; should he accuse his former lover of lying and attempted murder? Even at the cost of being publicly branded an adulterer?
The Crucible is clearly a difficult play to produce; one wrong choice from the director, one wrong gesture from a performer, and the effect could elicit laughter instead of sadness.
However, Rogers was up to the challenge and succeeded completely. His delivery, stage presence, and tone were nothing short of professional.
Tosic-McNally was another who gave a stellar performance, playing the role of the sinister and promiscuous Abigail Williams. The only criticism I can give Tosic-McNally is that the audience could have been confused with how she truly felt about John Proctor. Was her innocence stolen from her? Is she a victim? Or a sociopath? Does she love him in some twisted way? Or has she been using him all along? These questions arose throughout the play. I believe that Tosic-McNally should have decided how to play her by getting into her head, but apart from that, her performance was topnotch. The witchcraft could have evoked a comic effect if performed overdramatically, especially during the possession scenes; however, Tosic-McNally pulled it off with flying colours and, as a result, created a chilling effect.
This play could not have been such a great success without the supporting cast. The actors realistically recreated life in 1692; as I sat there, I felt as if I were attending an actual witch trial.
Out of the five Dawson theatre productions that I have attended in the past year, I can say with confidence that The Crucible is the only one that can truly be called a professional production, performed by a professional cast. I strongly encourage those of you who have not attended the play to do so before it ends its run on May first.