The Crucible directed by Yaël Farber at the Old Vic is performed in the Round and really focuses on the dark, difficult and small lives that the inhabitants of Salem would have led. As soon as the news of the young girl’s seizures spreads through the town neighbours begin to pour through the hatch in the stage as they air grievances which have clearly festered for years under the pretence of concern. John Proctor’s entrance (played by Richard Armitage) brings a stubborn force to the room which refuses to bow to common opinion. He continues to hold this stance even as events escalate and the whole village first fears witchcraft and then the witch trials.
The ensemble performance of the village girls, led by Abigail Williams (played by Samantha Colley), was mesmerising. The effect of their fits and screaming made the village’s witch hunting hysteria understandable even if it remained repulsive. As each girl’s hair fell free from the previous constraints of headscarves during these moments the puritanical uniformity of the dark set provided the perfect contrast for the sudden array of colour on display. This attempted suppression of creativity and life is reminiscent of the anti-communist circumstances which led Arthur Miller to write The Crucible.
If you’re looking for a thoughtful play full of emotion then The Crucible is definitely worth a visit. It runs until 13th September so there’s still time… http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2014/the-crucible/