**WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS**
ALLIANCE OHIO- In all my time going to see live theatre productions- and I have seen quite a handful- I have never had such a physical and visual reaction to a story the way I reacted to the Mount Union Theatre Department’s production of Kimberly Belflower’s “John Proctor is the Villain.” The play’s themes feature many current and sensitive topics giving the cast an opportunity to comment on how some things have barely changed in the hundreds of years since the first Europeans came to America.
**SPOILERS BEGIN HERE**
With strong performances from actors up and down the cast list, a few thespians stand out for their roles in “John Proctor is the Villain.” Olan Domer, who shed his well-known lovable personality to take up the mantle of Lee Turner, the self-centered-chauvinist-and-shockingly-not-main-antagonist, displayed his range as an actor, creating a character we can truly all be disgusted by. Domer’s ability to slide into the role so seamlessly calls one thing into question: Is the Olan Domer we all know harboring a dark secret?
Another killer performance was delivered by Rose Morrison, who plays the chaotic-neutral protagonist of Shelby Holcomb. When Shelby returns after a mysterious absence, it is hard for the audience to see her as anything other than the girl who hooked up with her best friends' boyfriend. Rose’s work in her characters shoes was one of the most brilliant parts of this play, as her flawed nature made her backstory accessible to members of the audience who, despite unforgivable actions, sought redemption and fought for truth.
Finally, of all the stellar performances, I could not help but include one of my favorite characters: Mason. Mason, the guy whose heart is in the right place but each attempt to be better sometimes lands a little to the left. Clay James’ character was where I saw myself in the play. Always trying to better himself, but also trying to be a supportive friend to his new friends in the feminist club whilst maintaining his friendship with Lee. While James’ character often comes off as cringe, he really means well.
The way that this show tackles subjects of sexual assault, sexual misconduct and the complex dynamic between and accuser and the accused, combined with the setting of teenage drama and hormones all wrapped up in the context of high school English class make for quite a compelling and thrilling production that is sure to make you gasp, cry and squirm in your seat.