Pictured: Lauren Fernandez, Rachel Mayman and Kathleen Welch. (Langley High School)

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Laura Cermak, a student at Oakcrest School reviews ”The Crucible”, performed by Langley High School , as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

Girls’ hands pounding, Tituba’s chants resounding, “The Crucible” opened at Langley High School with a dramatic force that permeated the production.  The audience sat onstage, transported to Salem to experience the onslaught of passion and fear from the position of an all-seeing jury.

 Written by Arthur Miller in 1952, “The Crucible” is set in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts.  Miller uses the Salem Witch Trials as an allegory for the blacklisting of suspected communists under McCarthyism.  John Proctor pleads the court to free his wife, Elizabeth, who has been accused of witchcraft by their former servant Abigail Williams.  Abigail, being John’s former lover, wants Elizabeth hanged, and so accuses her and many others of afflicting her and the town girls with evil spirits.  In John’s attempt to call out Abigail’s fakery, his servant Mary Warren betrays him and he is hanged for refusing to confess being a man of the devil.

The strength of the entire cast was in the mannerisms that each character displayed.  For example, John Proctor ran his trembling hand through his hair, Mary Warren defiantly clenched her fists, and Elizabeth had a constant frown that revealed how hurt she was inside.  Diction, volume, and intonation made the characters’ words clear, deliberate, and meaningful.  Given the challenge of having the audience on all sides, stage presence was excellent and at least one person’s face could always be seen.

 John Proctor, played by Brian Patterson, led the show with incredible emotions and captivating facial expressions.  Patterson commanded every aspect of John’s personality, from his frustrated dislike of Reverend Parris to his torn feelings of lust and hatred toward Abigail Williams.  The most outstanding chemistry between characters was between John and his wife, Elizabeth Proctor, played by Taylor Goodson.  Together they portrayed a deep and pained relationship, with John trying diligently to please his wife and Elizabeth struggling to bury her suspicions and forgive him.  John’s forced friendliness combined with Elizabeth’s strained silence created a palpable tension.

 Lauren Fernandez played Abigail Williams with an impressive balance of feminine tenderness and a hidden nature of viciousness.  She masterfully transitioned between these two sides, holding her head high with righteousness in one instance, then threatening to ruin her companions’ lives in the next.  One astounding actress, Kaity Hinojosa, played Tituba with a powerful voice and a shattering cry for mercy when she is accused of dealing with the devil.  The ensemble of Abby’s Girls played off each other very well, especially during the courtroom scene.  Occasionally, the ensemble observing the action lacked participation and some characters had intonation and body language that did not match their age.  Overall, however, the various levels of maturity were on target.

 The technical side of the production was simplistic to allow more emphasis on the actors.  The use of eerie music during scene changes added to the suspense.  Though the set was plain and sparse, Yasmin Shahkarami’s authentic props, such as period-appropriate paper, a lantern, and cider jug added to the realism.  Contrasting with this realism was a modern, abstract mural that, although it broke the continuity of the stage, did match the mood of anger in the play with sharp shapes and red highlights.

 Langley High School’s production of “The Crucible” was captivating experience that is not likely to be forgotten by the jury that was privileged to witness it.