Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Before I went to see this production (at Manhattan Theatre Source) of Arthur Miller's classic I tried to determine how many times I'd already seen the play performed in my lifetime. I lost count around 20. I'll confess, I was skeptical that I'd get much out of seeing it again in a small 50-seat black box, but there I was fighting tears along with most everyone else during that final scene. The tiny-budget production doesn't have any directorial gimmick and makes do with a few white boxes and a cross in the way of scenery, but it turns out that seeing the play well-performed in a super intimate space is all that is needed to give the story fresh urgency. That, and a powerful central performance by Seth Duerr who understands, unlike so many others I've seen in the role, that the more vital and flawed the character the more compelling his story. His Proctor is hot-tempered and formidable, miles away from Daniel Day Lewis' milquetoast performance in the misguided film which turned the play into nothing more than a pageant of victimhood. Other very strong performances include Sarah E. Mathews as Proctor's wife, Naomi McDougall Jones as Abigail, Amy Bohaker as Mary Warren, and Angus Hepburn as Danforth.