"John Proctor is the Villain" - by Kimberly Belflower - Huntington Theatre Company (Boston, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Victoria Omoregie as “Nell,” Jules Talbot as “Beth” and Haley Wong as “Raelynn” in a scene from Kimberly Belflower's "JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN" presented by Huntington Theatre Company, now playing at the BCA in Boston, MA. through March 10, 2024. Photo Credit T. Charles Erickson)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

"Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.”  

                                                                         - Arthur Miller

Huntington Theatre Company

Presents Kimberly Belflower's


Written by Kimberly Belflower

Directed by Margot Bordelon

Choreographer - Victoria L. Awkward

Cast Includes: Japhet Balaban* as “Carter Smith,” Maanav Aryan Goyal as “Mason Adams,” Olivia Hebert* as “Bailey Gallagher,” Benjamin Izaak as “Lee Turner,” Brianna Martinez as “Ivy Watkins,” Victoria Omoregie* as “Nell Shaw,” Jules Talbot as “Beth Powell,” Isabel Van Natta* as “Shelby Holcomb,” Haley Wong* as “Raelynn Nix.” Understudies Include: Katherine Callaway, Jessica Golden, Jack Greenberg, Jaime José Hernandez, Patrick O’Konis, Valyn Lyric Turner, and Zehava Younger.

Additional Creative Team:   

Scenic Design - Kristen Robinson; Costume Design - Zoë Sundra; Lighting Design - Aja M. Jackson; Sound Design - Sinan Refik Zafar; Hair and Makeup Design - Rachel Padula-Shufelt; Dramaturg - Lauren Halvorsen; Voice and Dialect Coach - Christine Hamel; Fight and Intimacy Consultant - Jessica Scout Malone; Assistant Director - Carla Mirabal Rodríguez; Production Stage Manager - Emily F. McMullen; Stage Manager - Lucas Bryce Dixon

Calderwood Pavilion / Wimberly Theatre


February 8, 2024 through March 10, 2024 

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)  


Available online at huntingtontheatre.orgby phone at 617-266-0800 or in person at The Huntington Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston.


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

In the latest production by the Huntington Theatre Company"JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN" (now playing at the BCA in Boston), truth and text appear to be on a collision course and the result is something that should have many people still talking as they exit the theatre.

What begins as a class examination of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" turns into a revelation of dark, disturbing and deeply held secrets within the class, the school, the community and the society allowing certain things to happen without repercussion.

Arthur Miller died 19 years ago in 2005 but, were he still alive, it would be interesting to see Miller's own reaction to Kimberly Belflower's "JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN." 

I'm sure he'd be surprised at how his work of historical fiction has been analyzed here, perhaps even over analyzed at times, beyond its original allegorical intent.

However, thanks to an incredibly dynamic cast under the direction of Margot Bordelon, the results are simultaneously inciteful and engaging.

It is 2018 and, as the play unfolds, it takes place during junior year at Helen County High, the only high school in what some students refer to as a "one-stoplight town" in Georgia. 

A small class of six students are examining "The Crucible" because their teacher, Carter Smith (Japhet Balaban) feels the character of "John Proctor" is one of the "great literary heroes" ever written. 

Balaban is immediately likeable as Smith, who is awkward, at times, but has the admiration of all his students, especially many students identifying as female. 

Bailey Gallagher (Olivia Hebert) works with Smith as a school counselor and tries to work as a liaison between faculty and the school administration.

Herbert makes Gallagher come across as genuinely kind, trustworthy and sincerely interested in what is best for all concerned. 

(Photo: The CAST of Kimberly Belflower's "JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN" presented by Huntington Theatre Company, now playing at the BCA in Boston, MA. through March 10, 2024. Photo Credit T. Charles Erickson)

Several students seek to start a "Feminism Club" and, while Gallagher has relayed some opposition by the administration, it is Smith who manages to get the club approved.   

Leading the club is Beth Powell (Jules Talbot) who comes across self-deprecating, self conscious while simultaneously wanting to be confident and assertive

As adeptly played by Talbot, Beth is a decent, caring individual who struggles being assertive but is always wanting to contribute something to the conversation, especially if the conversation is on something in which Beth is well versed. 

Other members in both Mr. Carter's class and in the new Feminist Club are Nell Shaw (Victoria Omoregie) the 'new kid on the block,' having just moved to the town from Atlanta; Ivy Watkins (Brianna Martinez) a townie who comes from money and whose family is well known in the community; and Raelynn Nix (Haley Wong) who is a bit more hesitant to join in any conversations since the trauma of breaking up with her cheating boyfriend, Lee (Benjamin Izaak).

The four performers making up the members of this club are all pure stage gold, totally in tune with their characters without falling into predictable stereotype, and complimenting one another in various combinations throughout the 90 minute story.

Omoregie as Nell is vibrant and fun, as is Martinez as Ivy who also displays a highly vulnerable side once a family crisis becomes fodder for the local press, while the effervescent Haley Wong as Raelynn seems to undergo the biggest transformation by the time we reach the play's conclusion.

(Photo: Olivia Hebert as “Bailey Gallagher” and Japhet Balaban as “Carter Smith” in a scene from Kimberly Belflower's "JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN" presented by Huntington Theatre Company, now playing at the BCA in Boston, MA. through March 10, 2024. Photo Credit T. Charles Erickson)

Part of Raelynn's growth comes when her estranged best friend, Shelby Holcomb (Isabel Van Natta), returns to school.

The two became estranged when Shelby slept with Lee.

For some reason, Shelby disappeared for a long time and has only just come back to the school.

As the extremely complex and troubled Shelby, Van Natta is exceptional providing a multi-layered performance.

Izaak as Lee requires a suspension of disbelief to be believed as a high school student but is spot on portraying someone who appears as if he feels immune to the consequences of their actions.

Omoregie is particularly delightful as Nell in scenes that involve the goofy but fun Mason Adams (Maanav Aryan Goyal) a struggling student and halfhearted basketball player who is also in Mr. Carter's class and also winds up as part of the Feminism Club.

Small schools tend to work this way a lot.

Maanav Aryan Goyal not only brings the funny to every scene, but also a sense of sincerity as Mason transitions from goofball to ally as the play progresses. 

(Photo: Brianna Martinez as “Ivy,” Jules Talbot as “Beth," Victoria Omoregie as “Nell” and Haley Wong as “Raelynn” in a scene from Kimberly Belflower's "JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN" presented by Huntington Theatre Company, now playing at the BCA in Boston, MA. through March 10, 2024. Photo Credit T. Charles Erickson)

While the above all reads like the synopsis of a "Degrassi" series, what the hell does any of this have to do with "The Crucible?"

Quite a bit, actually.

They all soon factor into both the examination of "The Crucible" and the far more serious examination of "truth and consequences" that follows, which is where the show succeeds brilliantly thanks to the equally impressive collective performances.

Miller's "Crucible" was an allegory of the communist "Red Scare" experienced during the early 1950s with McCarthyism and blacklisting. 

During this period, many Americans, afraid that communists might infiltrate and destroy the government, began to turn on many innocent persons suspected of being communist, destroying some of those lives in the process. 

Yet, the allegorical part of "The Crucible" is NOT what this class seems to have picked up on in their reading and discussions and, the literary aspect they DO pick up on, is both enlightening...and igniting.

Where and when "JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN" takes place soon becomes critical. 

In the wake of not one but multiple sex scandals plaguing this small Georgia community, concepts such as "abstinence," "consent," "toxic masculinity," "subjugation," "self-perception," "public perception," "persecution," "patriarchy," "predatory behavior," heck, even the "#MeToo Movement" all collide with Miller's iconic play.

(Photo: Victoria Omoregie as “Nell,” Jules Talbot as “Beth” and Haley Wong as “Raelynn” in a scene from Kimberly Belflower's "JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN" presented by Huntington Theatre Company, now playing at the BCA in Boston, MA. through March 10, 2024. Photo Credit T. Charles Erickson)

Similar to the "Red Scare," there is an attempt to injure (if not destroy) some lives using rumor and conjecture. 

However, as Kimberly Belflower's play builds, just as Miller expressed in his"Crucible," “It's the proper morning to fly into Hell” because the injured THIS time will not pass up their opportunity to rise above any and all attempts to deny them retribution.

"JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN" continues at the BCA in Boston until March 10th, 2024 and, while there will be some who will react with an "Oh, God - not another play on predatory behavior" it will also have FAR more in the audience cheering by the end. 

For the latter group, it is strongly recommended that you do NOT miss out on this one. 

Up next the Huntington Theatre Company runs the bases with "TONI STONE" by Lydia R. Diamond beginning May 17th, 2024.

For tickets or more information, contact huntingtontheatre.org or call # 617-266-0800.  

Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




At a rural high school in Georgia, a group of lively teens explore The Crucible while navigating young love, sex ed, and a few school scandals. With a contemporary lens on the American classic, the young women begin to discover their power and agency, finding a way to hold both the classic text and their community to account – with a profound sense of rage, authenticity, and hope. Alternately touching and bitingly funny, this new comedy captures a generation in mid-transformation, running on pop music, optimism, and fury, writing their own coming of age story.  

From Artistic Director Loretta Greco: “I read Kimberly Bellflower’s stunning new play and was obsessed! With Gen Z at the center, this reinvestigation of the canonical Crucible is a reckoning of our power structure and the stories we tell that reinforce that imbalance. This brilliant play has sparked a movement! It’s brimming with the buoyant honesty of youth, the pain and JOY of growing up, the potential for this generation who are as fluent in Lorde as Joan Didion – and ultimately the thrill of hard-won agency and transcendence. Nothing about this play is business as usual!”  

From playwright Kimberly Belflower:'JOHN PROCTOR IS THE VILLAIN' is my heart and guts in a single play, and I am overjoyed for it to find new life at The Huntington with such tremendous collaborators in Margot Bordelon and Loretta Greco.”  

Critical acclaim: “A knockout! JOHN PROCTOR is pushing for a 4.0 GPA.” – The Washington Post 

“Cracking good theatre! Add it to your ‘must see’ list.” – DC Metro Theater Arts 

“Biting and exquisite!” – MD Theatre Guide    


THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, THE HUNTINGTON brings together superb local and national talent and produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions. THE HUNTINGTON runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. THE HUNTINGTON has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert the Huntington Avenue Theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community. THE HUNTINGTON cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form.