The Crucible

Fri 5th – Sun 7th December 2014

reviews

Sofya Grebenkina

at 14:15 on 6th Dec 2014

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Bailey Theatre Company’s adaptation of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, their first university-wide production in almost three years, is a howling success. This play is a must-see production due to its combination of wise directorial decisions, the production team’s minimalistic yet careful choice of props and costume, and most of, thee all superb acting.

At first, upon witnessing the semi-circle of chairs designated for the audience which surrounded the near-bare stage, one could not but be filled with fear for the production’s success and slight trepidation. This bareness on the stage: for the first Act there was only a bed and a pillow, necessitated a high standard of acting to be justified. I have never been more pleased to be proven unjustified in my concerns. The stage drew the audience, being on the same level, into the sordid dealings within the play; we became the jury and the participants in the horrifying Salem witch trials, which unfolded before our eyes. Furthermore, despite the closeness of the chairs to the stage, perhaps because of this, I still found myself leaning forward, intrigued and thrilled to be immersed in a world where paranoia reigned supreme. Although the scene setting only altered negligibly throughout the production, due to its sparse nature, it only helped give space to the extremity of emotion generated within this psychological drama.

John Proctor, played by Sam Newton, and Abigail Williams, played by Sophie Wright were an absolute delight to witness on stage, never for a moment relinquishing their grasp on the audience’s attention. Sophie’s hysterical and mesmerising portrayal ideally balanced Sam’s calm and contemplative characterization of the main character. The power of their representation would have been sufficient to make this play good, so it was an added delight that the rest of the cast matched the strength of their performance. Having read the play before and formed my own opinion as to the nature of Elizabeth Proctor, her portrayal by Erin Welch, offered a refreshing exposé of her character, and elicited a plethora of audience sympathy. Confronted with the tyrannical Governor Danforth, brilliantly played by Wilf Wort, and his band of followers the audience became wholly invested in their hope for the town’s recovery.

Apart from occasional vexation with the clumsiness of the tech crew, there is nothing in this production that offers itself to criticism. So poignant and cathartic was the tragedy, so excellently conveyed were the passions of these characters that I could not help but be left on the verge of tears as the final drum sounded for John Proctor.

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