The fear whipped up by witch hunts has the might to change the social fabric, there needing to be an ‘enemy’ to defeat, the root of this phenomena that we’ve repetitively seen play out throughout history. Influenced by the Salem witch trials of 1692/1693 and the McCarthyism of 40s and 50s America, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible instils what it is for hysteria to very gradually take over a community, a nation, a population.
Lyndsey Turner’s take on the well known tale has us placed in the realm of law and spirit more so – Matthew Marsh’s stoic Danforth and Fisayo Akinade’s grounded Reverend John Hale are the jury, judge and executioner – weighty characters concerned with the supposed use of witchcraft which now threatens the livelihood of Salem. Both, although seemingly knowledgable in their fields, themselves swept in by the progressively absurd turn of events that sweeps through the community.
Brian Gleeson’s well respected John Proctor also takes prominence throughout, a hard working, reserved man – his lack of affection towards wife, Caitlin Fitzgerald’s humble Elizabeth Proctor threatens to strain their marriage. His affair with Milly Alcock’s bold Abigail Williams an ember that continues to fuel doubt in Elizabeth’s mind and John Proctor’s character. Within this partnership do we see the complicated nature of love – and how these two embody an unwavering loyalty in amongst the accusations of witchcraft and chaos.
Abigail Williams’ ability to shift the mood to her liking and convince those around her that witchcraft indeed is prevalent forms the production’s foundation. This a skill within itself which she’s mastered, and knows she has done. This fascinating to watch play, the fates of those around her very slowly determined by this. The production a steady simmer to some of the play’s heightened moments, the key moments an aspect really honed in on well here. Es Devlin’s wooden furnitured set taking us back to 1600s USA, a waterfall separating the stage from the rest of the auditorium mesmerising – a stand out feature of the evening!
Written by Lucy Basaba.
The Crucible is currently showing until Saturday 2nd September 2023 at the Gielgud Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…