Following the incredible performance from Kevin Spacey in Clarence Darrow, The Old Vic Theatre is now playing host to Arthur Miller’s notorious play – The Crucible. It tells the story of the Salem witch trials that took place in the 17th century and is also an allegory for the anti-communist witch-hunt that was McCarthyism in the 1950s. Over the duration of the play, a tight-knit community rapidly tears apart at the seams, as false accusations and spite create widespread fear and lead to irrational persecutions.
Richard Armitage gives a fantastic performance as John Proctor – the tormented, suffering man who is the central focus of the terrifying nightmare that dramatically unfolds around him. The play is dark, and what translates well in this production is the hysteria created by the vengeful Abigail Williams, a young girl who becomes involved with Proctor and is then scorned by him as he refuses to leave his wife. It is a play about collective apathy, manipulation, and guilt, and it gives a fascinating insight into just how easy it is to be drawn into believing things.
Despite this production lasting almost three and a half hours – with the first half being two hours alone – not one moment is overdone, drawn out or remotely tiresome. Yael Farber’s directing and the clever use of the Old Vic’s newly designed stage – The Round – mean the play is brought to life in an exciting way which allows it to move beyond the time it depicts, and stands to be a relevant piece of theatre for today. The staging is not elaborate; instead, this production focuses on the language and the emotions that dominate the play and drive the story to one of chaos, which questions the idea of innocence and how far people can go when they believe they are righteous.
The Crucible is playing now at The Old Vic until Saturday 13th September.