So I’ve finally saw the five-star masterpiece The Crucible (by Arthur Miller, directed by Yael Farber), one of my favourite plays, and I thank whoever decided to film it live for those like me who weren’t able to see it at The Old Vic in London last year. The Crucible is about fear-driven acts that threaten to tear a community in Salem, Massachusetts apart. The catalyst is a group of young girls who lead the accusations of witchcraft on people who are considered to be good or reputable.
Not only did I love the minimalist style, costumes and setting, I also love the emphasis on physicality. I applaud the actresses playing the girls in that intense physical scene where they become possessed (pretended to be) or attacked by “spirits”, not to mention the lighting and haunting music heightening the effect. The power of voice is a major element in the play that caught my attention and it aligns with the importance of names – names are the only thing that the accused and imprisoned characters have.
This is shown throughout the play through the characters’ reputations in society; their names are associated with “good” or “bad”, and silence seems to be a character. In some scenes, characters go on without a word for more than five minutes and there’s something beautiful about that. Watching them do something in silence. It reflects the seriousness of the situation and the strained relationships or interactions between characters, even heightening distrust. The power of voice is also shown through a chorus of shouting, voices overlapping and delivered like arrows, reflecting the chaos that is happening.
Richard Armitage, who plays the leading role of John Proctor, is from the moment he comes on stage an unforgettable and intense presence. Not that I’m bias or anything but Armitage is an amazing actor. You can see Proctor carrying a burden through his rigid body and a demeanour that warns you that he’s about to turn into a beast at any moment. He isn’t one-dimensional though. Proctor is capable of being soft. He’s quite loyal to his friends and family, and breaks down but eventually stays true to himself to the very end. It’s incredible to see Armitage portraying that complexity and stirs so much feelings in the viewer.
I also love Samantha Colley’s Abigail Williams, the leader of the girls. I hate the character and her portrayal in this version of the play made me hate her even more. There are some villains that you just can’t forgive or sympathise and Colley’s performance makes that effective, getting on my nerves. There’s subtlety but melodrama in how Abigail reacts and she has tears framing her eyes and staining her cheeks, talk about appearances are deceiving, which heighten the intensity of hysteria and suspicion that’s spiraling out of control. You get the feeling that there won’t be a happy ending for the falsely accused. Abigail and her friends have the town wrapped around their fingers.
The constantly trembling and tear-stained Mary Warren, played by Natalie Gavin, also captured my heart which she broke with a shocking moment. A moment that I expected but I didn’t expect such a powerful performance. The rest of the characters were well-rounded and…so real. Even though the play was filmed, I could feel the tears and spits on me, and the emotions and voices crushing against me as if I watched it live. It left me crying. I wasn’t prepared for the ending, not even being a fan of the play helped me.
You can tell that so much effort and dedication was put into this production, and it’s worth seeing – you don’t have to be a theatre lover to see it. I give The Crucible 1000 out 10! It’s one of the best plays I’ve seen and one that I will cherish forever. It also brought back drama school memories. Hopefully it gets a DVD release because I want to see it again. *Huge smiley face with tears*
Now I’m going to read some essays on The Crucible.