The Crucible, written by famed American playwright Arthur Miller in 1953, presents significant themes, such as lies and deceit, good versus evil, and the supernatural, to name a few. As a renowned play, there have been several recreations and performances of The Crucible worldwide.
Last Friday, I had the chance to attend one such recreation by the St. Michael’s College Troubadours. Directed by Jeffrey Kennes, the play centres around the Salem Witch Trials in 1692-1693 in Salem, Massachusetts. The Crucible depicts the consequences and harsh results of following your own desires during this time. The play also demonstrates how deviating from societal norms during that time period could lead to a trial and incarceration.
The play begins with Reverend Samuel Parris (Gianni Sallese) kneeling at his daughter’s bed in grief. He is aware of the town gossip that Betty Parris (Nicole Bell) has been made ill from “unnatural causes.” Parris’ niece, Abigail Williams (Joanna Decc), then enters with concern for her cousin Betty, who is lying unconscious.
Reverend Parris demands an explanation for the condition of his daughter. However, he appears more concerned about his reputation than Betty’s well-being. He expresses to her unconscious body, “I have spent three long years bending these stiff-necked people to me, and now when some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character.”
Later in the play, the audience learns how the reverend’s selfish concern for his own reputation leads to unfair problems for others. From this first scene, I was hooked by the overall quality of acting. I especially enjoyed the performance of Sallese, who offered a realistic portrayal of the reverend, both through his appearance and his acting.
This introduction soon led to the entrance of John Proctor (Max Levy). At first glance, the audience might interpret Proctor as a supporting character. Though, as the plot unfolds, we learn that he is actually the star of the play. Proctor is a headstrong, confident man who isn’t afraid of voicing his thoughts and opinions. Proctor is introduced to the audience as a man with no acceptance of hypocrisy. All the while, he had a secret affair with Abigail. During this time period, an affair was unacceptable to society.
Despite Proctor’s apparent dislike towards hypocrisy within Salem, he presents his own sense of hypocrisy during a conversation with his wife, where he swears he only wants to make her happy. He repeatedly apologizes for his affair with Abigail, but the damage has already been done.
Mary Warren (Lauren Van Klaveren), a servant to Proctor, is the most guilt-stricken character in the play. She continuously denies any form of association with ungodly creatures, for fear of being despised by society and being locked away in Proctor’s house. We learn about her insecurities in greater depth when she is forced to make her case in court.
The audience is soon introduced to Reverend John Hale (Emma Burns), who has an unending knowledge about the devil and his work of deceit. Hale struggles to revive Betty by attempting to release the devil’s spirit from her. Hale is initially portrayed as a man who is less corrupt than Parris. But later in the play, he encourages Parris to confess his sins in an attempt to save his reputation, as well as the reputations of all those on the town’s council.
In the last few scenes of the play, the role of corruption becomes evident. Characters are arrested on the charge of being witches, and the lives of many characters dwindle from there.
Throughout the play, the themes I mentioned earlier were consistently presenting themselves. Notions of corruption and good versus evil were especially apparent through the portrayals of authoritative figures. Kennes brought The Crucible to life with a cast of talented actors and actresses. The play was riveting and loaded with suspense throughout.
The Crucible ran at Father Madden Hall until November 26.