Friday, 11 July 2014

'The Crucible' The Old Vic *****

The Old Vic’s in the round configuration has proven to be a success with its previous productions, ‘Other Desert Cities’ and ‘Clarence Darrow’ and the third in the season, Arthur Millers’ highly regarded play, ‘The Crucible’ is an emotive spectacle and a real endurance challenge. This is due to the fact that the play lasts for three and a half hours, which is the longest one has ever spent in a theatre, not only this year but one’s entire existence. ‘The Crucible’, originally written and performed in 1953 conveys is a somewhat fictional dramatization of the Salem witch trials that occurred during 1692-1693, in America, and the paranoia that exudes the community and the justice system. We are introduced, immediately with Reverend Parris' daughter, who believes she is a witch and thinks she’s communicating with the devil. As such this frightens the entire Massachusetts people and prompts a hunt of all females who are experiencing these symptoms. The narrative is exceedingly appealing throughout as you feel slightly empathetic towards the male characters, as it suggests that the women are being deceitful to prove their own power and dominance. Miller’s plot advocates the idiocy that surrounded Massachusetts during the time, and how the influence of the supernatural commenced one of the supposed witches husbands to prove his wife’s innocence and purity of the other hypothetical witches. One found it interesting that the playwright wrote ‘The Crucible’ in an environment that was fearful of American culture becoming worldwide, and this is clearly evident in the plays flow and the superiority of the woman in a male dominated society. In addition, Miller’s narrative is enthralling throughout the three and a half hours, and this shows that this is his masterpiece of writing, even more so than ‘A View from the Bridge’, which has recently been staged at nearby Young Vic. The performances by the company of ‘The Crucible’ were excellently portrayed. Richard Armitage is outstanding as central protagonist, John Proctor. The monologue section, prior to his execution was vastly moving, and I noticed many audience it members crying at this moment. Jack Ellis is extraordinary as the main witch hunter, Danforth especially in a moment where he's incredibly chilling in interrogating the women for the truth. Natalie Gavin's betrayal as Mary Warren who tries to demonstrate her innocence is exceptional. Yaël Farber’s direction is phenomenal as she has been able to instigate the bleakness of the situation and allows us to make our own conclusions. Once again, Soutra Gilmour’s designs are spectacular as the set is incredibly simplistic, but effective, especially when we enter an auditorium that is consumed of only wooden chairs. She can clearly design performances of all styles and genres. Overall, ‘The Crucible’ is an experience that was truly memorable and would be worth a visit.

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