Theatre review: The Crucible
- Alex Eades
- 24 February 2016
From 20th century classic to 21st century pantomime, The Crucible falls flat just when we need it most
Widely regarded to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, Arthur Miller’s McCarthy-era inspired masterpiece deals with major themes: intolerance, hysteria and collective responsibility in the face of authority. As relevant today as it has ever been, a revival of The Crucible possibly couldn’t be any more timely. And yet, any thematic correlations are cloaked under a veil of mediocrity in this disappointing production at the Lyceum Theatre.
Loosely based on the Salem Witch Trials that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay during 1692, Miller's script exposes how superstition, lust and personal grievances fuel mass hysteria in a small, tightly-knit community, leading to accusation and even death.
Unfortunately, despite being handsomely staged, this muddled production suffers from a collection of poor performances and often lazy direction. The tragic tone is undermined by melodramatic performances and a collection of accents that appear to be from everywhere but Salem, including one character who can’t seem to decide if he is from the Bronx or Croyden. John Proctor himself is virtually invisible from the start, lacking charisma or magnetism, preventing any engagement with the tragic fates of him and his wife.
Moments of high drama provoke a rattle of laughter which, if intended, was extremely misjudged. The high drama of the court scenes are compromised by the hilarity, and the atmosphere created suggests that both the text, and the audience, are being misjudged in a production that misses the seriousness of Miller's highly political script.
The Crucible runs at The Lyceum until Sat 19 Mar