Originally performed in 1953, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is a well-known play studied by many students across the country. It’s an exploration of the Salem witch trials set in the Puritan New England town of Salem.
It’s a timeless piece that although is set many years ago, plays a huge part in our everyday life. Fear of Communism had spread through America, the characters are intolerant of the people who won’t conform. They are against the people who are not expressing their religion and have different beliefs, which makes them under attack for allegedly ‘working with the devil’ and being involved with witchcraft. With an abundance of accusation and fear, Miller has created a production that captures people turning against each other and causing this hysteria.
Douglas Rintoul’s direction has precision and clarity. With the staging being minimal, just three wooden panels which move to create different spaces, alongside the bold shadowed lighting it allows the drama to come solely from the actors.
The performances are gripping and engaging, particularly Charlie Condou who plays the sincere Reverend Hale that tries to do good. He manages to play the role that calms the scenes when the frenzy heightens and the hysteria is on high. I was highly impressed with Eoin Slattery who plays John Proctor, as his character progression is performed remarkably. John is a strong man, but his sanity deteriorates as his wife Elizabeth (Victoria Yates) is accused of witchcraft. Yates’ performance is equally poignant as she suffers from her life being taken away from her due to this false accusation.
The women really do stand out in the piece, with their impressive commitment to their character. Lucy Keirl gives a superb performance as young Abigail Williams who is accusing many of witchcraft. She constantly believes she is being tortured by the devil and her anger and panic are so real it’s almost painful to watch. Similarly, Augustina Seymour delivers the role of Mary Warren with convincing trepidation. Equally there is a compelling moment at the start of the play when Tituba (Diana Yekinni) is recalling her encounter with the devil and her amplified emotions are powerfully engaging.
It’s interesting how a play so old can still reflect modern-day politics and have an impact on the audience due to its relevance. The Crucible is a timely piece of theatre that boasts strong, powerful acting from all.
★★★★ Four Stars
On at the New Alex Theatre in Birmingham until Saturday the 10th of June and tickets can be found here.