THE CRUCIBLE

04 November 2015 Bristol Old Vic


The Crucible is one of those plays you've either read, seen, or heard about. After all, it was written by Arthur Miller, who you may also know for A View From The Bridge, Death Of A Salesman...I saw Yael Farber's version of The Crucible at The Old Vic in London twice last year and loved itOkay it may have been for Richard Armitage as John Proctor was just a beautiful and actually emotionally draining experience (in the best way) - but aside from that, it's just a striking play and I feel that it's storyline still resonates in societies throughout time. It just fits in so many aspects and believe it will be a play that can stand the test of time because of the meaning behind it. It was Miller's interpretation of the McCarthy era, and I think it was a great way to talk about what was going on in that time, but masking it within another time period, but with events that are obviously valid, and happened in some shape or form in regards to accusations of witchcraft in the past. 

So...when I saw that my favourite Scottish lass, Neve McIntosh was cast as Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible, playing at Bristol Old Vic? Well, of course I had to go! It's a play I now knew of, and would be able to appreciate what was in front of me, instead of trying to figure out what the story was etc. Did you know that the Bristol Old Vic is where The Crucible actually made its first UK appearance? So it was kind of like, a homecoming for the play, and the theatre. You may want to get comfy and grab a cuppa, because I got a bit carried away with my excitement for certain aspects of the play...

I have to laugh because when I got to the theatre, took my seat - I assumed that when I booked my ticket, people would be sat in the seats that were shown as sold on the site. Oh no, no no no. I had the entire front row to myself. Maybe it was a fault in the booking system or something because I swear that there should have at least been a couple people on the front row with me! 

It begins with the entire cast coming out singing, from behind the on-stage seating, and then move into their positions. Most of them being sat around the outside, where they're quietly praying and talking to themselves as the scene unfolds in front of us with Reverend Samuel Parris and his daughter Betty who was found dancing in the woods with Abigail, her cousin. When Betty wakes, we see her jump up off the bed, and one of the benches is held up as a wall, in which she runs into. A window frame further back on stage is gorgeously lit, casting it's shadow onto the stage. Those sat near it, lift Betty as she tries to make a break out of the window. It's obviously a bad thing, her wanting to jump out the window, but it was beautiful, how it was choreographed. 

The staging. Ohhhhhh, the staging was beautiful. It was pretty minimalistic with some wooden benches and tables which the cast would move about in a beautiful way. How do I mean that? I just mean, there would be interludes where it would go dark, but you'd see their silhouettes as they moved something, and they'd put it down with force which would bring the audience back into the moment. And you guys know how much I love a good ol' silhouette or shadow. Also, behind the on stage seating, they had real trees. REAL TREES! Yes, I'm getting giddy over trees. There was one moment where they looked so haunting. The young girls of the village were walking on stage and the trees were lit up red. Ohhhh, it was freakin' awesome. The trees also added to the somewhat...immersive feel the play had. In certain moments of the play, you'd have them talking to the audience, for in the courtroom scenes, we were just as much the judge and the jury...it's kind of a great way to do it though isn't it? We can't shout out, we can't speak as such, so our silence is just as much to blame for what happens, not only what Abigail and the other girls did. (Love that I just realised that as I was writing this!) Basically, break the fourth wall in a play in some shape or form and I will love it so freakin' much.

Now...I get into plays. I have an intense, focused face when watching them...and there are a couple of moments in The Crucible that will always hit me right in the ol' feels, which means a change of expression for me. The first is when Mary Warren, the maid who replaced Abigail comes back from court, where she has made a 'poppet' (a small toy) as a gift for Elizabeth. It's not until later in the scene that officials believe it's hers - and when they find a needle in it, they take her away. Elizabeth is mentioned in court as being a witch, and Reverend John Hale visits the Proctor's home to tell her and John. You can see they are both angry and shocked at what the girls at the court have done. Even though she was only mentioned in passing. Moments later, officials from the court come to take her away, and the 'proof' that makes them believe she's a witch is the poppet laying on the table. In short...John loses his shit because he knows that the girls of the village, namely Abigail are to blame for this. Dean Lennox Kelly as John Proctor is fantastic. Sure, I loved Richard Armitage's portrayal in London, but I see them both differently. With a lot of things, I try not to compare them if I've seen another incarnation/version. Namely because in this version of The Crucible, the cast all have a variety of accents which is embraced in this, as I believe the director Tom Morris said that Dean found a recording of a reading from The Crucible which has it in a Scottish accent, which he modelled his Proctor around. It definitely gives the play a different quality. I know when I read the play originally, I read it in American accents in my head so it will be interesting to read it again with different accents.

The other scene that gets to me is the final one. It's the day that John is going to be hung for his supposed 'crimes', and Parris convinces Deputy-Governor Danforth and Judge Hathorne to talk to Elizabeth (whose life they have spared until she's given birth), to convince John that if he confesses, he can be a free man. She agrees, and he confesses (even though it's a lie). He signs the confession, but then grabs it and rips it up when they state that it will be put up on the church door. The way that Dean played that scene, furious and upset that they want to take the one thing that belongs to him, his name...right in the feels. And then to top it off, Elizabeth is upset because of what's happening - the glimmer of hope that he'd get to survive, snatched away at the blink of an eye. I have to state here that I'm no good when a character cries in a play. So obviously when one moment, Elizabeth is clearly distraught, and the next moment, tears are streaming down her face? Cheers Neve for making this stony faced lass' eyes well up. HOW DO YOU DO THE CRYING THING. Like, seriously. 

I kind of wish I had the money to see it again, as it's gripping the whole way through. The whole cast were great and am glad I made the trip down to Bristol! It was also great to meet up with Neve after to have a long-awaited catch up. Oh, I attempted to do an OOTD post for what I wore, but it kind of didn't work out because I can't pose to save my life. So have a mirror shot of my cape I dug out of my wardrobe after somehow managing to forget about it (but let's ignore whatever the hell that face is that I am pulling). Think I picked it up many moons ago in Primark - probably one of my favourite purchases from there!


Is there a play you would watch again and again? Whether that be in regards to one particular version or not!

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