21 July 2014

As my first Crucible review informs, my first time to see the play was during the previews. Few words could be used to describe the wonderful artistic experience it was. Now, you may expect that, since I am so familiar with the play, with its plot and the performances, I would just go to the theatre, sit there, smile and enjoy a second viewing.

While I struggled with tears in my eyes during my first visit, this time there was no way around it - I just let it all happen: I cried and cried. Seeing other people sobbing around didn't help. Why was this, though? The answer lies in the gripping performance itself. Just picture this: you know everything that's going to happen, yet you get so involved once again, you get to feel their emotions at such a raw level that you can't help it - you live the actors' experience; you go through it once again, with an even greater intensity than before.

It was on a Saturday night, meaning the cast also went through a matinee the same day. How tiring it must be! Yet, Richard Armitage had the same uncompromising roar. Towards the end, as he was torn between painful decisions, desperate to save himself and his wife, his voice would break down and sound totally hopeless, defeated, in tears. His John Proctor is so authentic it's impossible not to cherish this production. Also, Adrian Schiller's Reverend Hale is a character to remember. Excellent acting there as well, and another exhausting role! This time, Adrian Schiller was even more driven than in the previews and his acting was more desperate towards the end, when trying so hard to vouch for Proctor's innocence. You may go watch this play for Armitage, but you will discover many other actors who are well skilled and who will enrapture you.

The Old Vic dressed down for the play

The first scenes were significantly changed. At first, Tituba used to chant slowly for a few minutes in a long dragging scene. This time, it was all better polished: no chanting, but an eerie music and a sombre atmosphere and Tituba walking while holding an incense bowl. We could smell the incense and that took us immediately to Salem. We were there as witnesses. The next moment, the whole cast slowly comes on stage. Before, they used to come bare-footed and eventually put on their shoes, in a well-placed symbolic gesture. I was surprised to see they cut that part. Now they only came onto the stage, shoes on, took a seat for a short while, then left. There was a focus on John Proctor. He sat there for longer, covering his face with his hands. At that point, it became obvious that he was the one going to face a tragedy.

Apart from these, the first part felt a bit rushed but soon everything was flawless. I was happy to see they kept the slow transitions, the silent atmospheric moments that build up the tension and take you even further into that eerie darkness of Salem. Also, there were more convulsions than the first time and there was a bigger emphasis on the demonic possession idea. It was a great thing that I got one of the cheaper seats - up there at Lilian Baylis Circle, in the left corner. I loved seeing the play from above, it's a totally new perspective that's revealing some details I could not see from other angles, such as all the emotion on John Proctor's face when kneeling down and talking to his wife. That is a very good angle for the bathing scene as well, unexpectedly.

Richard signing for fans
Although I am one of the lucky ones to be in London for an extended period and see this play repeatedly, there was one powerful thought within my mind: that it needs to be on a DVD. Some might just never get the chance to see this and it is not fair. I saw it, yet still want a DVD - that should give them a clue of how important it is.

Seeing The Crucible for the second time was a far more intense and rewarding experience than I expected, in spite of getting one of the cheaper seats.

Oh and by the way. It was a FULL HOUSE ;)
Relaxed atmosphere at the Stage Door


  1. Great review! How wonderful to have seen it twice and from such different perspectives and yet still have had such a powerful reaction to it. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

    1. Thank you so much! I will definitely see it again if I can, this play is a well-polished jewel! This is what I call true art. I hope they make a DVD... it's much needed!