Director Susan Marie Rhea is quite commendable … she chooses to let the cast do the work and draws the best performance she can. You will find visual and dramatic beauty in this production … Rhea’s placement and the performances of her actors make for visuals that look like they were painted by a 1960’s Norman Rockwell.
Played alternately gruff and tender by Mark A. Rhea, Proctor’s demeanor turns out drawing an even sharper point to his powerlessness in the last act. Portrayed youthfully and passionately by Kevin Hasser, you will never decide if you like Reverend Hale or hate him.
Third, we have the villain of all villains, Abigail Williams, a mischievous girl who bullies her friends, and for her own self-preservation levels the original charges. As the story unfolds, she clearly cares not about the suffering she has wrought, and in fact perpetuates it for her sake. The image of Abby as a dominant figure and maestro of this sorrow is unshakable. In the closing scenes, you realize to your horror that she is indomitable in her perfidy. Because you will hate her so much, you will love Sarah Lasko. Her best moments come in the scenes where she is wordless; the grim expressions of command, the feigned outrage and fear torture the audience as much as the characters around her…
Finally, of course, there is Deputy Governor Danforth, an officious and indignant potentate with all the warmth of liquid nitrogen. It is his lack of simple human insight that is the tragic locus of this play. He always must dominate his scenes, and Kevin Adams is up to the task, playing him as overbearing and as blustery as you should expect.
This play will probably always be part of the dramatic canon, because it tells a story that seems to repeat itself as often as summer rain. From Socrates to Christ, to Jan Hus, to Dreyfus, to the unthought-of victims of countless purges and pogroms throughout history, the human story is full of such moments.
Americans, in particular, seem prone to hysteria and resentment. Every group that upsets norms is met with fierce backlash. That is a special warning to those of you who are camped out in parks and squares throughout our country; your backlash is coming too. This is a basic human story, one that will repeat itself as long as people inhabit this earth. This is why Millers play connects to so many people. The fact that it is the best writing on the topic since Plato’s Apology doesn’t hurt, either.