Set in 1692 in Massachusetts, The Crucible depicts the famous witch trials that took place in Salem. Led by Abigail Williams, a group of young girls are caught dancing naked in the woods and performing ‘magic’. Dancing is considered punishable in this town, let alone performing magic. To cover their actions they say they were forced to by Barbadian slave Tituba and that they spoke with the devil. They accuse members of the community of being in the presence of the devil, thus naming them witches or wizards. Those accused are brought to trial and if they do not admit their so-called sins they are sentenced to hanging.
Amongst those accused is Elizabeth Proctor, wife of John Proctor who has slept with Abigail Williams in the past. Abigail hopes to have Elizabeth hanged so that she can pursue John.
So there’s a lot of lives at stake, reputations to be tarnished and accusations falsely made with disastrous consequences.
John Proctor is played by the wonderful Richard Armitage, who recently starred in The Hobbit and Robin Hood, and also happens to be rather gorgeous. Proctor is a seriously meaty part and one that it seems Richard is revelling in playing – check out what he has to say about it in this video.
|Richard Armitage as John Proctor|
Abigail is played by newcomer Samantha Colley in her professional stage debut – she has such power in her performance, she really captures the strength and danger of Abigail, and at times seems truly possessed.
|Samantha Colley as Abigail Williams|
And, for me, the role of Mary Warren seemed all the more significant in the Old Vic production. Often overlooked as a protagonist for the bolder Abigail, Mary’s attempt to tell the truth is pivotal in the explosion of activity that brings the play thundering to it’s conclusion. Natalie Gavin takes on the role with great precision and emotional awareness. An honest and wonderful performance.
And all of this astounding acting and action is accompanied beautifully by Richard Hammarton’s haunting soundscape, a constant reminder of the suspense and risk in the melting pot that Salem has become.
It’s thrilling, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching and ridiculously brilliant. There was barely a dry eye in the house. Get tickets here and experience it for yourself.