Tag Archives: Arthur Miller

REVIEW: Scottish Ballet’s The Crucible – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

American choreographer Helen Pickett seals her reputation as a masterful creator of narrative ballet in her adaptation of Arthur Miller’s seminal play The Crucible. Teaming up with Scottish Ballet, themselves with a not-too-shabby reputation for staging classic American literary works (2012’s A Streetcar Named Desire), together they deliver a gripping, unsettling, goose bump-inducing work.

The prescience of the subject matter is in itself chilling, that a work written at the height of the Cold War and set at the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690’s, has a relevance in 2019, is shuddering to acknowledge.

Pickett’s choreography is refreshingly original, a blast of beautiful, lyrical modernity set against a historic backdrop. Her background as not only a dancer, but accomplished actress, has reaped dividends in this work. Each character is clearly defined, and the choreography is sufficiently emotive, nuanced and descriptive enough to drive the narrative.

Emma Kingsbury and David Finn’s design, dark and claustrophobic, is almost a character in itself and the wonderfully named Peter Salem’s score is a knock-out, pulsating, atmospheric, the sense of foreboding building throughout. It is notable in its perfect reflection of time and place, and is played gorgeously by the Scottish Ballet orchestra.

This is a company of universal quality and the entire work is danced with conviction, Barnaby Rook Bishop shines as John Proctor as does Bethany Kingsley-Garner as his wronged wife Elizabeth, who has matured into a beautifully nuanced dancer, Claire Souet is explosive as the vengeful manipulator Abigail and Katlyn Addison’s powerful, exquisitely danced Tituba is a delight.

This explosive work is a thrill from start to end, a fitting and unmissable addition to Scottish Ballet’s 50th anniversary season.

Runs until 28 September 2019 | Image: Jane Hobson

REVIEW: The Crucible – The Old Vic, London

The Old Vic’s current revival of The Crucible is the most intensely gripping, thoroughly enthralling, powerful, visceral theatrical production I can remember experiencing.

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From the moment you enter the sack cloth draped walls of the auditorium, into the crucible created by this ‘in the round’ staging, the smell of burning embers biting at your nostrils, you are grabbed by the throat and held there on the edge of your seat for over three and a half hours; three and a half hours that fly by in the blink of an eye.

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Arthur Miller’s 1953 fictionalised account of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials is both a powerful indictment of the McCarthyism of the era when it was written and the all-too real and present danger of religious extremism in society. In an era defined by religious fervour, the small settlement of Salem is whipped into a frenzy of collective hysteria, paranoia and persecution by a servant girl seeking revenge and a society swayed by superstition.

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The staging is simplistic, focussing attention firmly on the action. Richard Armitage proves to be perfectly cast as the guilt-ridden but fundamentally decent John Proctor. He is a commanding physical presence, magnetic, radiating quiet power throughout, he remains at all times utterly electrifying. He is more than ably supported by his fellow cast members, in particular Anna Madeley as wife Elizabeth, the woman who has driven him to seek comfort elsewhere; Jack Ellis as witch-hunter Danforth and Adrian Schiller as Reverend Hale who fights against the tragic miscarriage of justice.

rsz_07277_the_old_vic_the_crucible_richard_armitage_john_proctor_and_anna_madeley_elizabeth_proctor_photo_credit_johan_persson[1]The ominous feeling of dread builds throughout, tightening its grip moment by moment, until it reaches the devastating climax. As the lights dim at the conclusion you are left emotionally wrung out. This timeless classic is as relevant today as it has always been and this production is completely, utterly and truly unmissable.