A contemporary flair transforms Act 1's "The Crucible" giving it a modern aesthetic while honoring the Arthur Miller's story based on the actual witch trials which took place in Salem in 1692.
Chilling and still relevant, the show at Desales University in Center Valley follows mass hysteria in the small religious town in Massachusetts.
Steven Dennis directs a talented cast of 21 in the intense and shattering production that seems to fly by.
An industrial-style set bookended by visible scaffolding looming ominously in the background created by scenic designer Will Neuert puts the action in a place and time that could be the 17th century as much as it could be now.
As Abigail Williams, Mackenzie Moyer is terrifying in her cold-blooded determination to bend the town and John Proctor to her will. Moyer's Abigail is bold, fearless and strong-willed as she manipulates the town folk with her visions of the devil. Particularly scary was the scene in which Abigail and the other girls force Mary ro switch sides.
Joey Letcher is the self-serving and ineffectual Rev. Parris who is more worried about keeping his stature in town than uncovering the truth after discovering his daughter and other girls dancing in the woods.
As his daughter Betty, Sarabeth Sabella believably portrays a hysteria-induced trance setting the plot in motion.
Dane McMichael creates a powerful protagonist in John Proctor. He is determined to do the right thing despite his past indicressions. He is stalwart throughout and even when physically broken still pulls out a gritty strength of spirit.
Ilia Paulino is spellbinding as the Barbadian serving woman Tituba who caves in to the pressure to confess and spins a tangled web that ultimately ensnares the entire town.
Stephanie Hodge is compelling as the Proctors' young maid Mary Warren and she skillfully conveys the girl's barely contained terror.
The scheming Thomas Putnam is played by Andrew Scoggia and as Goody Nurse, Hannah Michael is upright and deliberate - truly the pillar of the society.
Michael Covel is wonderfully crochety and clever as Giles Corey, a farmer who has made a side business of taking people to court.
Nathan Borzillo does an admirable job of making Rev. Hale go from a suspicious outsider intially to someone who suspects that the problem is not the devil but deception.
Emilee Gubler makes Elizabeth Proctor cool and detached but principaled,
As Judge Hawthorne and Deputy Governor Danforth Ethan Larson and James "Bo Sayre represent the worst of authority run amok with self interest and self justification.
The costumes by Deborah Burrill, tie in with the any time, any place concept. The women wear small hats that suggest a woman's pilgrim hat but are paired with contemporary almost punky designs from cropped jackets to footless tights. The designs even include an aviator hat for Giles and some of the costume convey a more sinister air such as the Nazi-like long leather jacked with an armband displaying a Celtic Trinity knot design.
"The Crucible" was written in 1953 and intended by Miller to comment on McCarthyism, but still has plenty to say about what is going on today.