The Old Vic Press Release describes The Crucible as ‘the story of one man’s fight to save his identity in a repressive Puritan community where intolerance collides with lust and superstition, fuelling widespread hysteria with tragic results.’
Quite. Get ready to have that for 3hrs45 mins. But Yaël Farber‘s production is a great success. Beautifully set in the round, there is a full five minute dramatic overture before a word is heard. With subtle incidental music (not going to lie – definite hints of the dwarves song a la The Hobbit) great lighting and good use of ‘mist’ the first act opened onto the distraught Reverend Parris at the bedside of his ‘sick’ daughter Betty.
The fairly large cast (24) is lead by Richard Armitage as the tortured John Proctor – who despite previous ‘sins’ seeks redemption and what is right, to the bitter end. Of particular note were Samantha Colley (Abigail Williams) and Sarah Niles (Tituba). Colley’s passion as the manipulative Abigail highlighted the destructive and twisted culture of accusation and Niles as Tituba had us entranced with her weary ‘dance’ around the space. Whilst the moment Richard Armitage removed his shirt did not appear to have a direct dramatic merit, we’re not going to complain. The ensemble cast of ‘witches’ were also strong – moving with unity when under the ‘spirits spell’ and creating a very dark presence on stage.
We’re keeping this brief – but a clear highlight from the show was the moment in court when Elizabeth Proctor (Anna Madeley) is asked if she suspected her husband of infidelity. Of course, set in the round, the audience is naturally part of the court observers. Such was the tension of awaiting her response – the entire audience gasped at her (we won’t give spoilers) response. That’s a great success. When the audience forgets they are watching a play.
A great and dark production, Faber’s Crucible explores the confusion of identity, belief, persecution and prosecution, family, state, individuality, love, infidelity and truth.
The Crucible runs until September 13th 2014. Get tickets here. Full cast list below.
Disclaimer: we saw the pre-press previews – so it can only get better! ~BF
The Crucible, Wednesday June 25th 2014, Old Vic Theatre London
Richard Armitage – John Proctor
Harry Attwell – Thomas Putnam
Samantha Colley – Abigail Williams
Marama Corlett – Betty Parris
Jack Ellis – Deputy Governor Danforth
Ann Firband – Rebecca Nurse
William Gaunt – Giles Corey
Natalie Gavin – Mary Warren
Christopher Godwin – Judge Hathorne
Catherine Hammond – Voice of Martha Corey
Hannah Hutch – Ensemble
Lauren Lyle – Ensemble
Anna Madeley – Elizabeth Proctor
Paddy Navin – Sarah Good
Sarah Niles – Tituba
Tom Peters – Marshall Herrick
Neil Salvage – Francis Nurse
Rebecca Saire – Mrs Ann Putnam
Adrian Schiller – Reverend John Hale
Michael Thomas – Reverent Parris
Alan Vicary – Ezekiel Cheever
Daisy Waterstone – Susanna Walcott
Matt Weyland – Hopkins
Zara White – Ensemble