William Webster, John Jarvis, Courtney Ch'ng Lancaster & Hannah Miller (photo: Cylla von Tiedemann)
No one can know God’s will
Sixty years on, The Crucible proves it still has much to say
by Stuart Munro
While the specifics of Miller’s inspiration are no longer with us, there is no doubt that his message is still entirely relevant.
As mentioned above, Soulpepper’s production finds a delicate balance between a cool detachment and powerful commentary; much of the first half felt stiff and disconnected - but the nature of the dialogue and play itself demand this. We are, after all, looking at the lives of Puritans in 1690s America—a certain detachment is to be expected. Regardless, I found myself hoping things would change in the second half. This ended up being the case as the play begins to focus on three of the stronger actors on the stage: Joseph Ziegler as Deputy Governor Danforth, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster as Mary Warren, and Stuart Hughes as John Proctor. All three successfully tread the line between detached and passionate without ever falling too deeply onto either side and, as a result, managed to highlight the internal conflict both of their characters and the levels of society they each represent.
While the specifics of Miller’s inspiration are no longer with us, there is no doubt that his message is still entirely relevant. When Deputy Governor Danforth declares “A person is either with this court or he must be utterly against it,” one immediately remembers Vic Toews saying that people “can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.” The particulars have changed, but the mentality has not. The Salem trials were the responsibility of the state and not the church, but any state that fuses its mandate with such a narrow-minded ideology cannot help but fall into the same trap. It seems this is a lesson we constantly need reminding of, and as long as that is the case The Crucible will always have a place on the stage.