The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Directed by Jane Heyman
Studio 58 at Langara College
Sept 29 to Oct 16, 2011.
Vancouver, BC: "The play's the thing!" and Arthur Miller's play written almost 60 years ago has not lost one iota of its power to captivate. The Crucible is set in Salem village, Massachusetts in 1692, notorious for the witch trials resulting in nineteen people hanging for supposedly being witches. Miller's play premiered on Broadway in 1952, five years after the House Committee for Un-American Activities had begun an investigation into communist influence in the Hollywood movie industry. Several hundred actors, directors and screen writers accused by this committee were blacklisted and their lives and careers ruined. The Crucible serves an allegorical function, the religious hysteria of seventeenth century Massachusetts stands in for the anti-communist hysteria of the 20th century. Both forces were driven by rabid believers who forced innocent people into the moral dilemma of false confessions or naming names of associates, to save their own lives.
The story in brief begins when the young girls of Salem village, Betty Parris (Agnes Tong), her older cousin Abigail Williams (Stephanie Moroz), Susanna Walcott (Leslie Dos Remedios), Mercy Lewis (Jennica Grienke) and Mary Warren (Kayla Dunbar) are seen cavorting in the woods with Tituba (Adele Noronha) the slave that Reverend Parris (Kazz Leskard) has brought back from Barbados. To divert attention from this, Abigail and the girls manifest various signs of hysteria and the whole town gets caught up in accusations and counter-accusations of witchcraft and Satan's influence at play. Old enmities of rich versus poor, land rights and claims, and other feuds underlie false accusations. The superstitious pious religious leaders of the community, Parris and Reverend Hale (Noah Rosenbaum) make everything worse.
John Proctor (Alex Rose) suspects that Abigail is trying to revenge herself on his wife Elizabeth (Sara Andrina Brown), who had fired Abigail for suspicion that she was involved with John. As more and more upright members of the community are accused, John vainly tries to bring forth proof that none of the events are true.
Pressured by Deputy Governor Danforth (Anthony Ingram) to admit his guilt and name others who were also guilty, John is faced with the moral dilemma - lie to save his life but blacken his name, or refuse to confess and be hanged.
In Miller's own words " this play is not history in the sense in which the word is used by academic historians." The names of the characters are real names form the records of the trials, but he has taken some license with the story. For example the 11 year old real Abigail is much older in the play - of an age when a relationship between her and Proctor could be believable. There were many judges involved in the real trials. Miller has just two, Deputy Governor Danforth (Anthony Ingram) and Judge Hathorne (Ryan MacDonald).
The student cast at Studio 58 did full justice to Miller's words in the first act. I was wholly engrossed in the plot. The intimacy of this theatre space helps to draw you into the drama. With Anthony Ingram's entrance as the rigidly dogmatic, single-minded Danforth in the second act, the tension got higher and everything seemed just that little more intense. There were so many excellent performances that it is impossible to name them all.
Overall the whole ensemble did an excellent job and put on a show that is memorable. It does not have a long run so I recommend you get your tickets now. It's an outstanding play and very well done. Don't miss it.
Shows are 8 pm Tuesday to Saturday with matinees on Saturday and Sunday.
For tickets call 604-684-2787 or book online.