The Crucible Burns with Bewitching Power on Phils Stage

Posted November 14, 2014 / Last updated April 13, 2015

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John Proctor's world crumbles around him as the children of Salem turn against him.

John Proctor’s world crumbles around him as the children of Salem turn against him.

Although it premiered in 1953, Arthur Miller’s classic drama, The Crucible, comes vividly to life with powerful and passionate performances on the Philelectic Society’s stage.

The current Phils’ production, running through next weekend, also shows why the Tony Award-wining play remains remarkably current. Set in Salem, Mass., during the infamous 17th century witch trials, playwright Miller intended the play to be an allegory responding to McCarthyism and the “Red Scare” of the 1950s. Its themes of how falsehoods, bigotry and misplaced zealotry can cause mass hysteria, and even cost lives, remains as resonant today as it did more than half a century ago.

Under the direction of Mrs. Kate Arthurs-Goldberg, the show features a strong ensemble cast of Phils veterans, as well as newcomers. “The Crucible” is a very verbose play, and not a lot of direct action occurs on stage. Nevertheless, her cast builds the tension throughout as the growing fear of being hauled into court under a rigged judicial system overtakes the town.

The entire ensemble performed well from the leads to the smaller roles. Of particular note, however, was sophomore Jarod Larriviere, who plays the role of John Proctor. In his efforts to defend his wife against charges of witchcraft, as well as expose the corruption of the system, he finds himself also imperiled. For an actor so young – this is his first show as a member of the Philelectic Society – he displayed a commanding presence as he elicited the sense of fear and frustration of Proctor’s plight.

Guest star Mr. Bob Roso, of the English department faculty, makes a return to the stage in a chilling turn as the Deputy Governor Danforth, who has come to Salem to oversee the proceedings. Roso projected a menacing aura of power beneath the judge’s deceptively soothing voice. That calm proved to be the eye of the storm, however, when the imperious official is faced with opposition.

The physical production is strong. Mr. Ron Goldberg’s sets create a flexible performance space, while also establishing the mood of mystery. Mr. D.J. Galliano’s ’07 lighting and sound designs are effectively evoke the growing sense of doom. Kudos also to the backstage crew, led by stage manager senior Tim Tabthong. Set changes and scenic transitions were handled quickly and smoothly – better, in fact, than I often see at professional theaters around town.

Ticket Information

Purchase discounted tickets online. Student tickets are $5 in advance/$10 at the door. Adult tickets are $10 in advance/$15 at the door.