Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is a tale for all times. Whilst written to the backdrop of the McCarthy witch-hunts, The Crucible draws upon the Salem witch trials as its muse. Telling the story of fear-mongering, hysteria, division and corruption.
Miller’s talent of writing is the ability to have an ongoing resonance. There is pertinence in the backdrop of politics. There is an ability to create the emotions, but to encourage the avoidance on consequence through this exploration.
The beauty of Arthur Miller’s work is beyond its reflection of the 20th century. It is in the exploration of themes which continue to have relevance. The ability to convey themes which continue to need a societal response.Director Douglas Rintoul has brought The Crucible to the stage in an understated production. The design is brisk, sparse, and clean, focus is given to the dialogue. Anouk Schiltz presents a set which works within its simplicity, a wooden structure re-emerging in so many guises, until it eventually forms the frame of the finality of courage and conviction.
There is a slight oddity in the production in the incorporation of projected words on the frame. Providing continuity- introduction and stage direction- it appears sporadically and inconsistently. It is a helpful introduction but it’s necessity isn’t clear, its contrast to simplicity feels unnecessary.
Because this is The Crucible, a play which demonstrates the ability of the New Theatre, Cardiff to attract the diversity of audience. From those studying the play, to those who once studied, fans of Arthur Miller, and theatre-lovers. For me, it was Death of a Salesman, my GCSE English text, which began an intrigue with the ability to engage and reflect life. The Crucible has been on my wish-list, accentuated by watching NTLive’s A View From The Bridge.
At almost three hours in duration (including an interval), the play does require focus, but in this I couldn’t help feeling envious of any English or Drama student watching the piece. To see words brought to life with such care and exploration.
This production of The Crucible shows it’s strength in the performances across the piece. Lucy Keirl’s Abigail hypnotises from the outset, blending vulnerability and power to create a convincing performance as the false accuser, the woman (girl) scorned.
This is complemented by strength and solid performance of Eoin Slattery as John Proctor, the critical role is everything that is needed to create conviction of belief. A challenging role in the many dimensions needed to bring this play to being. Each dimension was carefully crafted, the belief, the ability to stray, and the courage of conviction in taking responsibility. Direction was carefully crafted in the ability to form to influencing roles which surround John Proctor. Victoria Yeates held her own as Proctor’s wife, and yet crumbled convincingly in staying loyal to her husband. As Reverend Hale, Charlie Condou is successful in taking on the journey of the Reverend. It is a challenging role in creating the conviction that one’s perspective can change. There is a power created in seeing the change in the power of relationships, from suspicions to empathy.
The Crucible is hard-going. You feel as though you are living the journey. But it also feels like a rite of passage. This is what good writing is about. The ability to reflect our reality, and the ability to remain current. It is challenging in itself to absorb the multiple themes, and Douglas Rintoul plays on the ease of design and production to enable focus the strength of dialogue.
The Crucible is at the New Theatre, Cardiff until the 27th May 2017. Tickets are available on the website and on 020 20 87 88 89.
The Crucible concludes its UK tour at the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham from Monday 5th June to Saturday 12th June with tickets available on 0844 871 3011.
Disclosure: I was invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All opinions and words are my own.