The Crucible Review
Old Vic Theatre, London
5 / 5
A dark, brooding and intensely brilliant production.
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is an incendiary play that mesmerises audiences with grippingly intense performances from all of the cast and the haunting staging. The events of the Salem Witch Trials are the scene of a dramatic spectacle that holds everyone’s breath until the final curtain.
The premise of the play was the Salem Witch Trials in the 17th century, but Miller’s own life experiences contribute metaphorically through the Communist witch hunts in 1950s America. Simply staged, with furniture brought on when necessary, the audience’s gaze is focused on the actors and the text, and the unique Old Vic stage provides a closeness to the narrative as we are drawn further in to this fantastical production.
An ominous soundscape introduces a long wordless opening where we witness a sinister ritual performed by black servant girl Tituba (Sarah Niles). This ambiguous scene is the catalyst for a chain of wretched events that shake the bedrock of Salem that demonstrates the intractability of the religious fundamentalists, and shows that good people can be tainted by unfounded accusations motivated by jealousy and malice. From the opening sequence, the incessant hum and throb of the soundscape creates a dark and dull atmosphere, made murkier still with swirls of smoke and the grey drapes covering the theatre.