“The Crucible” opens its doors to the public

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Courtesy of Ashaka Matthews

Arthurs Miller’s play “The Crucible” came to ife at the Burnight Theatre.

Gonzalo Saucedo

Cerritos College Theatre Department’s presentation of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller both satisfies and disappoints, leaving the audience with a rather neutral and mediocre theater experience.

The Burnight Center Theatre at Cerritos College saw this adaptation of the great American classic that opened on Oct. 08 at 8 p.m.

“The Crucible” is a play set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, a time when witchcraft was the deemed cause for all things deviant.

The plot revolves around a group of girls who are caught dancing naked in a forest with a black slave named Tituba.

To avoid trouble with the village, the girls begin to blame their behavior on the workings of the devil, and proceed to accuse numerous innocent villagers of performing witchcraft.

Mass hysteria subsequently engulfs Salem as trials are held, grudges and secrets overflow into the mess and difficult decisions are made.

There is no question as to how good of a play “The Crucible” is.

The themes of intolerance and blind finger-pointing instilled into the play’s riveting setting are timeless.

Cerritos College Theatre Department’s production had its fair share of shortcomings, though.

The play, with its definite serious tone, was handled admirably by director Kevin Slay.

He has done an exceptional job with presenting the play’s passion and frenzy through the direction of his actors in the minimal set provided.

Susana Batres consistently shone in her portrayal of Abigail Williams, the vicious and vindictive leader of the lying girls who cried “witch!”

She did a great job of channeling Abigail’s incessant intensity throughout the play.

Also other outstanding actors were Juan Castaneda who portrayed Francis and Barbara Derry as Rebecca Nurse.

The despair of the Nurses, two elderly villagers are innocent members of the Salem Community that are unjustly thrust into the chaos that is engulfing the town, is jointly felt by the audience, due in no small part to Derry and Castaneda.

Some actors didn’t do nearly as well.

Zack Daly, cast as our tragic hero, John Proctor, often seemed incapable of expressing the character’s deep and fervent emotion, his lines were delivered as his character seemed bored and flat.

Tyler Tingley’s constant scowl and shouting while playing the role of Reverand Parris was more comical than serious.  

It made the character one-dimensional.

And Jose Zazueta’s turn as the troubled Giles Corey was almost a mockery of the character.  

All I remember from him in the play was rambling and yelling– surely not the manner in which the part was supposed to be read.

Overall, the casting seemed very uninspired.  Some actors delivered, maybe even in roles in which they should not have been cast, and others fell further because they were put in that situation.

The cast performed best during high-tension scenes, rising action and climaxes.  

Everything seemed real when everyone was screaming and arguing.

So the actors definitely succeeded when it mattered the most, in the clutch.

There were no audibility problems.  Everyone was loud and clear.

The minimal set, despite the small number of props, worked also.  The production did a great job of moving pieces around to create different places on a very small stage.

The costumes were rather mediocre.  Some seemed just very quickly thrown together and not exactly authentic to the period.

Though they weren’t the best, the costumes did help with placing the audience in the antiquity of the story.

The play’s lighting worked well with how close the audience was seated to the stage.

Technical aspects as a whole were largely positive.

The entire performance worked at times, and didn’t in others, and overall, both halves sort of negated each other.  

This production was okay, only okay.  It probably won’t be worth the price for you.

But if you would like to be your own judge “The Crucible” shows the 14 to 16 at 8 p.m. and the 17 at 2 p.m.