Reviewed by Cate Norris
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, takes us back to 17th century Salem and the Salem witch trials. The story unfolds around a group of girls who have been dancing and chanting in the woods, in order to conjure up the souls of the one of the group’s deceased sisters. When one of the girls becomes ill, concern spreads across the town, forcing the girls to confess what they did. This sparks fears of witchcraft, so the girls confess that they were involved and did see Satan but are now with God. The girls are offered protection but are encouraged to say which other village members they saw with the Devil. Before long, most of the town are under arrest on suspicion of witchery. Seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place, those under suspicion are required to prove they are not involved with witchcraft. If they do not believe in witchcraft, this is against the church, if they do believe, this may indicate involvement, if they cannot recite the 10 commandments or are known to engage in any other unusual behaviour such as reading, this may be proof enough. A simple confession however, can protect from imminent hanging.
This begs the question, to what extent would you conform to societal ideals? Would you blend in or stand out and would you confess to a crime you never committed in order to escape a harsher punishment? The Crucible was written in 1953, in which government rule in America reminded Arthur Miller of the Salem witch trials. Miller drew on the similarities between the Salem witch trials and the anti-communist agenda to make his point. This point may be relevant today on many levels, for example I consider my daughter who recently asked me if she should confess to what she had been accused of at school in order to end interrogation.
Coronation Street’s Charlie Condou stars as Reverend Hale in this production, and Call the Midwife’s Victoria Yeates as Elizabeth Proctor. The stars of the show for me however, were Lucy Keirl as Abigail Williams and Eoin Slattery as John Proctor. Both gave passionate and energetic performances. The set and costumes are well thought out, traditional and authentic. The set is shown at all times which adds to the excitement and anticipation whilst waiting for the show to start and is supported by eerie music. The general mood is dark, chilling and uneasy and is conveyed very well.
Overall, The Crucible is a good play and worth a watch. There are some heavy scenes with some drawn out dialogue, but I would just recommend being patient with these and go ready to listen, more so than watch.
Tickets cost from £13.75 to £36.25 (plus £4 transaction fee).
The Crucible is at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from 5-10 June 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/birmingham or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.
New Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS