Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

The Crucible
Olney Theatre Center
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of The Invisible Hand and Titus Andronicus

Chris Genebach and
Rachel Zampelli

Photo by Stan Barouh
Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953 as a reaction against the Congressional "witch hunts" then driving suspected Communists from their jobs, often with no more evidence against a suspect than another person "naming names." In another politically fraught time, Olney Theatre Center in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, has brought back the play with intensity and sometimes unexpected moments of revelation.

Director Eleanor Holdridge is working with a sizable cast on Andrew R. Cohen's set, which frames the realistic interiors with an upright tangle of wooden slats suggesting a bonfire under Nancy Schertler's dramatic lighting design. Some images are fleeting, glimpsed through a window or distorted by frosted glass, adding to the general sense of unease.

Chris Genebach is earnest and determined as John Proctor, the man of integrity standing up against rabid, unthinking hatred, and Rachel Zampelli makes the brave choice of showing his wife Elizabeth, at first, as abrasive and unsympathetic. Dani Stoller is suitably demanding and seductive as Abigail Williams, Michael Russotto plays Reverend Parris less as dogmatic and more bewildered by events he can't explain or justify, and Paul Morella is a stentorian Deputy Governor Danforth convinced of his own rectitude.

Miller was writing for his own time, which makes the prescience of some of the lines more surprising. A minister states confidently that "evil can never overcome a minister"; the court tells a witness, "The pure in heart need no lawyers"; a member of the court refers to the need to "touch the bottom of this swamp"—all phrases that have taken on meanings unknown in 1953.

Olney Theatre Center
The Crucible
April 18th – May 20th, 2018
By Arthur Miller
Reverend Samuel Parris: Michael Russotto
Betty Parris: Caroline Rilette or Mia Rilette
Tituba: Lilian Oben
Abigail Williams: Dani Stoller
Susanna Walcott: Yakima Rich
Ann Putnam: Jessica Lefkow
Thomas Putnam: Bolton Marsh
Mercy Lewis: Guadalupe Campos
Mary Warren: Miranda Rizzolo
John Proctor: Chris Genebach
Rebecca Nurse: Brigid Cleary
Giles Corey: Craig MacDonald
Reverend John Hale: Scott Parkinson
Elizabeth Proctor: Rachel Zampelli
John Willard: Dylan Fleming
Hopkins: Bolton Marsh
Ezekiel Cheever: Jonathan Atkinson
Judge Hathorne: Shpend Xani
Deputy Governor Danforth: Paul Morella
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road
Olney, MD
Ticket Information: 301-924-3400 or