The Crucible – The Yard Theatre, London

Writer: Arthur Miller

Director: Jay Miller

Reviewer: Sophia Moss

The cast, who are more dressed for casual Friday than 1692, enter the stage and sit on chairs which display their characters names and begin the dialogue. The play feels more like a reading than a performance at first, but soon the actors are on their feet and showing off their American accents.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which uses the Salem witch trials as an allegory for McCarthyism and mass hysteria, is a compelling and equally frustrating tale of how one lie, based on jealousy and revenge, led to mass arrests and multiple hangings.

This version takes place on a medium-sized stage with minimal but well-chosen props – a fireplace and a table with apples, a plate of cooked rabbit and a jug of cider is enough to transport us into a 17thcentury farmhouse. The lighting is used effectively to convey changes of scenery, i.e. light green for a forest and strobe lights for the ‘demonic visions’ at court.

Sound is also incorporated effectively, with voiceover echoes of the actor’s lines to create a sense of confusion and foreboding. Creepy sing song renditions of the mockingbird song heighten this sense of impending doom and also helps bring home how young these accusers are.

Caoilghionn Dunne gives a powerful, emotionally compelling performance as John Proctor, while Emma D’arcy (Elizabeth Proctor) manages to be quiet and softly spoken without getting lost in the crowd. Jack Holden (Reverend John Hale) gives a strong performance through his character’s transformation from optimism to disillusion. The Act 2 court scene with Nina Cassells (Abigail Williams) and Sorcha Groundsell (Mary Warren) is an excellently executed example of how and why people could be accused of witchcraft, where the human reality is far more chilling than any imagined supernatural influence.

This performance of The Crucible is a compelling, tragic and well-executed exploration of the witch-trial mentality. It’s frustrating, it’s depressing and it’s well worth a watch.

Runs until 11 of May 2019 | Image:

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