Murder in the Cathedral

The production of Murder in the Cathedral, which was a joint effort of the 2-SD students of the College of Arts & Sciences in cooperation with Kultura and Viare, came off with much success. Directed by Carlos Silvestre Carino, this Shakespearean-like play by T. S. Eliot flourished with a well-chosen cast and an ideal stage setting. Eliot centers the play around Archbishop Thomas Becket (alternately played by Joel Parcon & Robster Evangelista), who returns to the town of Canterbury after a seven-year absence. Brought to his powerful position under the auspices of King Henry II, Becket's refusal to unite the powers of the church with those of the king marked him as a traitor and resulted in his subsequent flight from London. A makeshift peace between the king and Becket allows the priest's homecoming, but the treaty is one of dubious stability. Thus, the women of Canterbury and local priests meet the news of the archbishop?s return with both joy and trepidation. Once back in Canterbury, Becket is greeted by the temptations that corrupted him before. More of his past is revealed as the play progresses, giving the audience a sense for how far Becket has traveled along the path of repentance. But even as Becket makes his peace with God, the king's revenge is still impending. Eliot has written a beautiful play that alternates between being powerful and preachy. In certain scenes, the characters address the audience directly. These asides, combined with the intimate and cold atmosphere of the Telengtan Hall, draw the audience into the play. The cast performed well, breathing emotion into Eliot's lyrical lines, often in a choral reading style. The music, costumes and makeup definitely have to be applauded as it did add to the whole foreboding effect of the play. The music was perfectly selected and played at just the right times, while the makeup enhanced the evilness of the tempters. The production had the luxury of spotlighting and lighting control for mood changes. Most action occurs in the light, and occasionally one notices that the tempters and the evil knights remain at the light's edge, cast in sinister shadow. One of two most memorable scenes for me takes place between the First Tempter (CJ Jimenez) and Becket. Jimenez obviously enjoyed his deliciously mischievous role representing the temptations of the flesh. The second memorable scene, where Becket meets with his death, is heightened by the use strobe lights. It is a fitting climax and makes the entire play. The justifications of the 4 knights about the murder committed made one think. It gave the play a definite twist as it revealed the thoughts of each behind the act. I must commend Nic Manahan for his outstanding performance as both the 4rth tempter and 4rth knight. The choreography of the women of Canterbury was excellent as well and they set the mood for each Act as the opening scene. Seeing the well-choreographed action and being surrounded by the rising rhythm of actors' voices, one can't help but be swept up into the tension of the scene. The part that had the most impact on me though was when Becket commanded the priests to "unbar the door" even though he knew that the knights were going to kill him. He wasn?t scared but accepted his death as the will of God. Those doors could have kept him safe, but he knew that the entrance to the house of the Lord should never be shut and bolted.The play was a portrayed exceptionally. It fully incorporated the elements that make a spectacular production, but most importantly, It sent the audience home with a sense of triumph at the legacy of one man who was not afraid to die for his beliefs.