top of page

EMAV Review: A witch hunt transcends time in NCT's stark, futuristic 'Crucible'

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

★★★½☆ - Satisfying

Nevada Conservatory Theatre's ambitious presentation of "The Crucible" is a powder keg of raw emotion, with powerful performances and a post-apocalyptic setting that gives an abstract interpretation of Arthur Miller's timeless 1953 play. Based on the historical 1692 witch hunt, trials, and executions of those falsely accused in the Puritan community of Salem, Massachusetts, Miller wrote the piece as an allegory for McCarthyism. His insights into the all-too-human penchant for mass hysteria, brought on by projection and irrational fear, speaks volumes to the different world views that divide us as a nation today. It's a show about the battle of dualities--religion vs. secularism, conformity vs. freedom, falsehood vs. truth, and emotion vs. reason--which will never go out of style.

Directed by Darren Weller and presented in the Black Box Theatre, Salem is envisioned as a dystopian community set sometime in the future, possibly after a catastrophic event that led to a theocratic regime which stripped individual freedoms in exchange for safety. They live in a devastated urban center rather than the rural farming village of the text, so perhaps they sow crops and graze cattle in open areas around the city.

Joe Garcia Miranda's scenic design resembles an abandoned office complex of hard concrete and gnarled metal which is both expansive and claustrophobic, with a central skylight through which hazy beams of light stream as if God were keeping a close watch on the proceedings. Nothing is soft here except the rumpled costumes of Gabrielle Lewis--which look earthy and vaguely biblical for the secular, farmer characters and cold and tailored for those of strict faith--and the people who populate the stage, who are often put on the spot by the confrontational lighting of Kirt Matthew Siders with its geometric shapes, and the jarring sound design of Rosalie Chaleunsouck.