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Review: UNH Theater and Dance presents 'The Crucible'

The Johnson Theater buzzed with anticipation on Sunday afternoon in preparation for the matinee showing of “The Crucible.” Although it was the last performance, the theater was still considerably full.

“The Crucible” involved powerful performances from the entire cast, particularly from Senior Cody Barbin who played John Proctor and sophomore Liam Tanner who played Deputy Governor Danforth. Senior Sarah Gontarski played her role as Abigail Williams well, one that can be difficult for any actress. In fact, this is a challenging play to perform and produce, but it was pulled off with flying colors. This was in part due to the direction of David Richman, of course. Each of the actors and actresses performed at a level that could be deemed professional. Reverend John Hale was played by senior Joe Juknievich, whose performance was stirring in his pitiable suffering based on the innocents he helped condemn to death in the play. Senior Allie Wing’s intensity of emotion as Elizabeth Proctor, in the second act especially, was palpable and lent a sense of real drama to the show.

The production obviously took a lot of hard work, as the staging and accents were incredibly precise. The lighting was well positioned and timed, with an addition of red or orange-colored lighting for effect between acts and at peak moments. The stage was made with unfinished wood, which, although historically accurate, is surprising due to the fact that some scenes involved bare feet for many of the actresses. Most of the crew work for the production was done by the cast themselves and the majority of those who weren’t in the cast were also UNH students.

Costumes for the show were period perfect and the body paint used for red marks on skin to make actors look dirty, for those who had been in the jails for some time, had a successful effect. All those listed as involved in the wardrobe department for the production are current UNH students, as well as UNH’s costume construction class.

There was some interesting staging, with characters mentioned but not actually in the scene standing on a spot-lit platform in the background, while the scenes took place at the front of the stage. A simple set was used, which was both effective and likely accurate to the time period of history during which the Salem Witch Trials took place.

The show was well produced and extremely well performed. Congratulations to the cast and crew for all of their hard work; it was certainly worth it, from the audience’s perspective. At the end of the show, even during the closing performance, the cast received a well-deserved standing ovation.

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