Yesterday was a sombre day in the wake of Monday’s tragedy, and I have to admit, I didn’t really feel in the mood to pop into Cardiff and carry on as normal. However, it was the opening night of The Crucible at New Theatre, and in hindsight the play spoke out to me on all kinds of levels; society, the human condition and the need to place blame and explain away everything for fear of not knowing. For me, this was pretty prophetic.
The Crucible follows the story of an intense witch hunt in Salem, New England. It follows the story of Elizabeth and John Proctor, torn apart by the lies of children. It tells the tale of whispers, lies and the choice between the truth and pride.
I attended with Nanny Kim after a lovely meal at Bellini’s (it’s very close to the theatre and perfect for a pre-theatre meal), thank you Nanny Kim! New Theatre has so much charm, and I always get a warm fuzzy feeling entering the building.
The stage was hauntingly set, the clever design allowing for no distractions from the play itself. I loved the rotating disc in the centre of the stage, perfect for moving accordingly and seamlessly. The costume was rich with texture and depth, and the music was sparse, but in a good way.
I think it’s so easy to walk into a theatre and expect to be entertained with music, flashing lights and singing, but when you see a play full of beautiful words you don’t need all the added extras; the words are the beauty and life of the performance.
The Crucible is definitely a slow and steady play, with spikes of horror, treachery and deceit. Having not read the play, I found the language beautiful and striking with intricate descriptions that left me feeling moved and emotional about the entire story.
“Great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead aye or nay. They say he give them but two words. “More weight,” he says. And died.”
This part of the play broke my heart, a choice made by a man intent on staying true to himself, and by doing so, he died. It’s this harsh reality of choosing between the lies and death, and when it comes to remaining true to yourself, death is the answer.
The cast was outstanding, with Charlie Condou playing Reverand Hale and Victoria Yeates taking on the role of Elizabeth Proctor. Charlie Condou’s character grew on me during the performance, his change of perception throughout the play was really refreshing, even if it didn’t change anything. His pleas and concern were performed with such feeling.
Victoria Yeates held her own with her performance of Elizabeth. She was confident in the role of brave Elizabeth, who lies to protect her husband. The scene where she is taken away brought tears to my eyes, the thought of being taken away from my own children one I can’t even contemplate.
I felt very overpowered with emotion as John Proctor (Eoin Slattery) evolved throughout the performance. His presence on stage was unbelievable, and I felt very drawn to him and his dedication to free his wife, despite his past exploits. I really respected his final moments on stage, and Slattery stood out as a powerful force upon the stage, his acting second to none.
Lucy Keirl who performed as Abigail Williams was absolutely fantastic at being wicked. Her performance was an act upon an act, deceit and lies spread viciously about the village, and her childhood innocence protecting her from start to end. She unnerved me during the performance, in a good way! Her character is juxtaposed with Mary Warren (performed by Augustina Seymour) offering softer, easily influenced and terrified child.
The Crucible is definitely an example of our society, the mixed up world within which we’re all trying to get by. It shows people at their best, and their worst, and it shows how we so easily get caught up in lies, the petulance of the children a stark reminder of how society behaves, regardless of age.
I remember the first time I read Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, a play that shaped me in some
ways, opening my eyes to real grittiness of the world around me. It left me with a haunting feeling, and after last night, The Crucible has left me feeling the same. Arthur Miller definitely has society pegged; the way we panic, the ‘sheep mentality’, the ‘blame game’ and how vicious gossip can turn a community against itself.
I think there’s a lot to be learnt from this production, and it’s very timely considering the current state of the world. Don’t expect singing, dancing, music and disco lights, go into this performance with an open-mind and heart, and listen, listen carefully to the words of Arthur Miller, because he’s trying to tell you something…
The Crucible is running at New Theatre until 27th May 2017 and tickets start from £13.00.
Disclosure: I received tickets in exchange for review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.