Watching Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ and wondering: will we never learn?

The CrucibleNo matter how many times I see it performed, I never tire of watching ‘The Crucible’ – whether in its stage format or on a cinema screen. Arguably, its themes have never been more relevant – Arthur Miller’s play may have been written in 1953 and concern events which occurred in the 17th century (albeit as an allegory for McCarthyism), but the circumstances which it portrays could be taking place today.

I watched this particular production at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch – it’s directed by the theatre’s new artistic director, Douglas Rintoul. I think it’s fair to say that both Michael and I were both bowled over. Having gone in with no expectations, having read no reviews, this turned out to be a riveting two and a half hours of theatre – the kind of evening which you simply do not want to end.

I loved the austere, imposing set, which perfectly matched the location, circumstances and era of the play. The acting was excellent, too, with two stand-out performances: Augustina Seymour, as the bewildered and frightened Mary Warren, and Charlie Condou, as the conflicted, tormented Reverend Hale. That isn’t to take anything away from the rest of the cast, all of whom were very good (dodgy “rural” accents aside).

This was acting of the highest standard, delivered straight from the heart and speaking directly to our consciences. The kind of acting, in other words, whose impact makes you want to take to the streets and protest your anger and frustration at today’s world until your lungs burst and the powers that be finally listen.

Please make the time to go and see this play. As a piece of theatre it remains chilling, compulsive – and, above all, necessary.

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