Rose Bruford College’s performance of The Crucible by Arthur Miller in October was a showcase of talented young actors — not to mention the many crew members who must have been involved in developing the costumes and the production itself.


Based on true events (using the Salem Witch Trials as a metaphor for McCarthyism during the Cold War), the play revolves around a town in the grip of hysteria about witchcraft, leading to trials and hangings on the evidence of a group of young girls with scores to settle. Arguably the central character is John Proctor (played by Ilir John), a farmer whose misguided past relationship with Abigail Williams (Rosie Fleeshman) endangers his wife, his reputation, and ultimately costs him his life.


While the chilling mimicking of the “possessed” girls was as frightening to the audience as one imagines it would have been to the characters observing it, it was John Proctor’s evident desperation that really elicited shivers. At the close of Act III, where he tells the judges that if he burns, they burn with him, the deadness in his expression and the abandon with which he throws away his standing as an upright Christian is a lesson in despair; when he confesses to the crime of lechery in the hope that it might undermine the testimony of Abigail Williams, it is difficult not to be stirred by his pain as he understands that he will never be able to regain his former reputation.


The actors made admirable use of the in-the-round theatre space, turning their attention to the audience on all sides, and the unexpected appearance of musicians (from drummers evoking the mood of an execution to a cellist whose eerie harmonics helped create the weirdness necessary for the hysteria) from various doors in the gallery helped to encompass all spectators in the action. The set involved hanging beams, cleverly altered to represent the various spaces of the play, which was ingenious but had one drawback: at times, their positioning obscured the view of those sitting on the upper level, making it difficult to see the expressions on the actors’ faces, but for those on the ground floor it would have been effective in its simplicity.


It was a spectacular production of a powerful play, and all the actors involved have a great deal of potential.