Saturday, February 23, 2019     Volume: 19, Issue: 51

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on February 21st, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 51 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 51

PCPA delivers powerful production of Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible'


When watching a play like The Crucible, now more than 65 years old, one wonders what playwright Arthur Miller would make of America now.

Andrew Philpot (pictured) delivers a dynamic and complex performance as John Proctor in the Pacific Conservatory Theater (PCPA)’s new production of 'The Crucible.'

Miller set his landmark, Tony Award-winning play in one of the darkest eras in American history, to shine a light on the troubling hysteria of the Red Scare, led by Joseph McCarthy. Miller wasn't trying to hide his disdain for the rabidity at which Americans started pointing fingers at one another to save their own hides. The play is a deftly searing critique of humanity's eagerness to believe their own convenient narrative and throw anyone who threatens their way of life squarely under the bus.

The rollout of Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA)'s new production of the play seems gloriously timely, a stark hand held high in the air amid a sea of tongue-wagging and screeching. The play is a preiscent reminder that human beings are deeply flawed, fragile, and at all times almost utterly unreliable in the face of fear. If Miller were alive today, I'm sure he would be on myriad talk shows, either proselytizing about the dangers of unfounded accusations or lamenting the derangement of politicians who want to ban or arrest people of certain religions or nationalities on a mass scale.

For PCPA's part, they've put on a brawny effort in bringing Miller's vision to the Marian Theater. Starting with the set, the company immediately establishes the tone for a stripped-down version of the play, tearing away at any artifice or spectacle and keeping the attention squarely where it belongs, on the tight group of actors working through Miller's allegory.

The Pacific Conservatory Theater (PCPA)’s production of Arthur Millers The Crucible runs through March 4. The play presents an unsettling look at hysteria and suspicion run wild in a small New England town.

Actors such as Skye Privat, who portrays the gossipy ringleader Abigail Williams, get a chance to skyrocket with their range, thanks to the intimacy of the theater and direction. Williams is an orphaned young girl whose parents were brutally murdered in front of her, and Privat dives into the underbelly of that trauma in a way that resonates effectively. Privat vasciallates from tempest to quivering child to villainous shrew so deftly, one would think the role was almost three different parts played by three different women. She is electric when she delivers the heartiest of Miller's lines, scorching the man who seduced her and abandoned her with a fire in her eyes that could be seen from the back row.

Andrew Philpot is another actor who takes his time to entice the audience into his role. His John Proctor at first comes off as somewhat brutish or even buffoonish, a farmer who had an affair with his teenage maid and clumsily regrets it. Philpot has a rugged vulnerability to his performance, but he's especially good when firing back at the hypocrisy of those in power. Philpot has something restrained in him, that when pulled at like a thread, comes unfurling like a kite, massive and soaring.

Is also a pleasure to again see George Walker as Reverend Nathan Hale; he's sincerely one of the best PCPA actors working today. He has a knack for becoming almost unrecognizable in his roles, as yet again, I didn't recognize him until the second act. Walker taps into the frustration of Hale, bound by his religious convictions, yet studied enough in logic and reason to be wary of the madness exploding around him.

See the play
The Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA)’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible runs through March 4 at the Marian Theater, located at 800 S. College Drive, Santa Maria. More info: (805) 922-8313 or

Our current political and sociological times are exactly what The Crucible tried so desperately to warn us about: objections and disagreements splintering off into suspicion and decaying into outright hatred and fear. Hopefully, there are enough of us out there who, like Miller, learned a thing or two from the past and won't let it go that far ever again.

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose is definitely a witch. Contact her at

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