TheaterLisa Gauthier

The Crucible

Indianapolis Civic Theatre

Directed by Jennifer Loia Alexander

Through Nov. 13

The Crucible, while a look at the Salem witch trials and a metaphor for the Communist "witch hunts" of Joseph McCarthy, is also an example of the frightening things that happen when religion is mixed with politics. One has to look no farther than NUVO's recent Cover Story "Puritan Politics" (Oct. 19-26) to see how close we are to allowing religious zealots to decide who is innocent, and who is guilty, of nebulous charges. Put cutline text here

Citizens of Indiana take heed: Is this really what you want our Legislature to look like?

Civic Theatre's production is an appropriately intense and dark staging of Arthur Miller's metaphor. It opens with sounds of whispers and laughter; the set, by scenic designer Ryan Koharchik, is misty and the backdrop is a series of diagonal slats that represent the state of hysteria that is to come.

Bill Simmons as John Proctor and Diane Kondrat as his wife Elizabeth show an exceptional amount of depth. When their human foibles - John's lechery and Elizabeth's damning lie - come forward, instead of condemning them you take pity on them, because these are real human beings thrust into a world gone mad.

Kelsey Hanlon as the instigator Abigail Williams displays the darkest side of an un-empowered woman in her frantic attempts to take what she wants, and feels she deserves. She, also, arouses the audience's pity because of her limited options. Hanlon embodies Abigail's descent from woman scorned to someone who is self-delusional.

Supporting characters, especially Don Fisher Jr. as Judge Hawthorne, complete the atmosphere of mass hysteria so that the play becomes an exercise in tension.

While this may be a show that you recall seeing as early as high school, it warrants revisiting because its message is even more relevant today, and Civic's production engenders the disbelief and horror Miller was hoping to produce.

The Crucible continues through Nov. 13, Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $24 ($15 Thursdays) and can be reserved by calling Civic, 3200 Cold Spring Road on the Marian College campus, 923-4597,