Sinclair Community College provides a commendably performed, terrifically designed presentation of “The Crucible,” Arthur Miller’s marvelous 1953 Tony Award-winning parable of 1950s McCarthyism set in Salem, Massachusetts circa 1692.
“The Crucible,” a well-timed season opener for Sinclair considering Wright State University’s production of Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” last month, centers on a God-fearing community grappling with issues of intolerance and morality as accusations of witchcraft by a group of vengeful teenage girls spreads like wildfire. Despite an opening half hour mired in ponderous pacing and off-kilter chemistry, director Stephen Skiles’ staging, neatly confined within Terry Stump’s excellently stark, wooden set expertly lit by Gina Neuerer, ultimately coalesces with gripping results.
As this powerfully relevant tale of betrayal, deceit and hypocrisy unfolds, Chris Hahn’s breakthrough performance as John Proctor firmly remains a towering depiction of a flawed man completely engulfed in rage, bewilderment and regret while circumstances implode beyond his control. Totally grounded and convincing as an earnest, rustic, hard working husband and father reaching his emotional and spiritual breaking point, Hahn wonderfully conveys the disgust and guilt that defines John’s infidelity with vindictive ringleader Abigail Williams (Angela Dermer) and the cold distance fueling his strained marriage to the plain Elizabeth (Allison Husko).
Additional standouts include Kes-lina Luoma as the conflicted Mary Warren, the splendidly sharp, authoritative Patrick Hayes as the unyielding, merciless Deputy-Governor Danforth, John Ray as the inquisitive, eventually distraught Reverend John Hale, and the simply fascinating Tametha Divvleeon as Tituba. Possessing an authentic dialect in her dynamic stage debut, Divvleeon supplies the first theatrical fireworks of the evening during Tituba’s passionate response to claims she conjured the devil in the forest. Embracing the sheer emotional drama of the moment for all its worth, she attacks center stage, arms outstretched and audibly winded, with a strikingly compelling intensity that seems to overtake every fiber of her being. It is an unforgettably riveting highlight within a production that unnervingly and upsettingly provokes just as Miller intended.
The Crucible continues through Oct. 22 in Blair Hall Theatre, Building 2, at Sinclair Community College, 444 W. Third St. Performances are Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Act One: 68 minutes; Act Two: 68 minutes. Tickets for the Downtown Dayton Thursday performance are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. Tickets for Friday and Saturday are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For additional information, visit www.sinclair.edu/tickets