Samantha Colley & Richard Armitage
Thanks to http://did-you-make-these-bunssss.tumblr.com/ for the following:
The Times review (5 stars!!)
I’ve seen Arthur Miller’s great play many times before, but it has never mesmerised and moved me quite like Yaël Farber’s revival manages to do here. This South African director won worldwide acclaim two years ago with Mies Julie, in which she relocated Strindberg’s classic to her homeland in the present day. Here, she stays faithful to Miller’s text and to his setting of the Salem witch trials in 1692 Massachusetts.
Yet she makes us feel not so much that we are watching the play but that we are part of it. “A drama cannot merely describe an emotion,” Miller wrote in his autobiography, “it has to become that emotion.” And Farber makes palpable these settlers’ paranoia and power games but also the deprivation and repression from which they spring.
The Crucible starts at a fever pitch. Accusations fly as teenaged girls are accused of witchcraft. The audience sits on all sides of Soutra Gilmour’s spare, in-the-round set as black-clad characters speak testily in northern accents (American accents were yet to be invented). There are droning sounds, dim lighting, plenty of smoke. The mood is unrelenting, properly Puritan, initially rather testing. It’s grim up North America.
Yet after Richard Armitage’s gruff John Proctor has clashed with Samantha Colley’s scheming, spurned Abigail, his former servant and mistress, Farber’s production has done the heavy lifting it needs to do. It has made hysteria tangible. And from then on this Cruciblegets ever more intimate and intense and insinuating. Yes, it’s long, at three and a half hours. Yet Miller’s perfect plotting and some precise, physical acting draw us into a world where innocence is no defence, where the only way to defend yourself against the system is to join the system.
Miller was spurred to write this 1953 play as an allegory of the McCarthyite paranoia of the time. Yet as first Adrian Schiller’s punctilious Reverend Hale and then Jack Ellis’s casually invincible Judge Danforth prod for any signs of dissent — two entirely different but equally powerful performances, flecked with wit — this speaks volumes about any absolutist regime. There are no entirely good or entirely bad characters here; just people striving for status or survival.
Armitage leads with passion as Proctor: it’s big acting, but Farber gives him the context for it. His scenes with his wife (Anna Madeley) have a repressed passion whose eventual release is overwhelming. There is fine support too from Colley as Abigail; from Natalie Gavin as the Proctors’ maid, Mary, and William Gaunt as an endearing Giles Corey. The entire ensemble of 24 ensures that Miller’s historical masterpiece feels entirely present-tense. Box office: 0844 871 7628, to Sept 13. The production is sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch
There have been many other raves about the production and Mr. Armitage’s performance. But here in NYC, the only review that REALLY matters is one by The New York Times. I’m imagining that in London The Times is of equal importance. In which case, FIVE STARS??? OMG!! I am so happy for Yael Farber and the entire cast & crew of The Crucible. I can’t wait to see it in August. And Mr. Armitage?? I wish him many, many more nights like this one. Blockbuster to come Into The Storm and, of course, The Hobbit! Lots more to look forward to in what is turning out to be a stellar year for our beloved man. Well deserved!