“I’ve been to see it and it wasn’t great.”
Unfortunately that’s something you hear a lot when you say you’re going to see Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, as I did at Richmond Theatre.
“They tried the American accents and it didn’t come off. And they were too shouty”, are the most common reasons why.
But this production had plenty of impact. It simmered along as we reached the end of the first of two acts, at which point it gripped the audience and didn’t let go.
Just before the curtain fell for the intermission we hit a point of high emotion. A big reveal is followed by the moment at which it is made clear witch hunt hysteria is spiralling out of control.
We heard gasps across the theatre, and audible creaking as audience members retreated from the edge of their seats – always a good sign.
The Crucible is a fictionalised version of the Salem witch trials which took place in colonial Massachusetts in the 1690s. It is an allegory of McCarthyism in the middle of the 20th century, in which a number of public figures – including Miller himself – were accused and interrogated over links to communist parties.
Miller altered the ages of the central characters somewhat, giving antagonist Abigail Williams an extra motive, but otherwise the story follows actual events quite faithfully.
Eoin Slattery and Victoria Yeates are excellent as John and Elizabeth Proctor, respectively, with the former possessing fantastic projection and presence. The outside-the-box use of projected stage directions help those less well-acquainted with Miller and also provide the odd moment of levity.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening.