Below is The Crucible Review at Richmond Theatre, written by my friend John O’brien who went in my place:-
Thank God for the Richmond Theatre. In this age of dumbing down and scrambled restless superficiality, we are lucky to have a space where serious grown up drama can still be put on. Never was a play more pertinent than the current production of Arthur Millers The Crucible. Miller himself remarked “I can almost tell what the political situation in a country is when the play is suddenly a hit there – it is either a warning of tyranny on the way or a reminder of tyranny just past.” Given our post Brexit, Trump, Putin, fake news, Populist era we can say that a tyranny is on the way. Miller wrote The Crucible in the 1950s at the time of the anti-Communist McCarthyite witch hunt against Communists taking over America. Miller wanted to comment on that and being a great Artist he came up with the brilliant idea of writing a play about the witch Hunt trials of 1692 in Salem Massachusetts. Anybody with any sense of at all would see that Miller was drawing an analogy between America in 1692 and America in 1952. And we in 2017 when we watch this brilliant production at the Richmond Theatre directed by Douglas Rintoul can see eerie parallels between now and then. For example The Daily Mail front page deriding our three most senior judges as “Enemies of the People”. Incidentally Miller had put on the Ibsen play with that very title a year before he wrote “The Crucible”. So the issues thrown up by this masterpiece of 20th Century drama stand the test of time and everyone lucky enough to see it will make their own connections between Salem in 1692 and our world in 2017.
It’s a serious play with a psychologically charged intensity so I recommend you go out onto Richmond Green in the interval to stretch your legs and prepare yourself for the second part of the production. Yes it is challenging, but the rewards are tremendous. None more so than the stunning performance by Eoin Slattery as the hero and enemy of the people – John Proctor. He is on stage for 90% of the three hours traffic of our stage and he holds the production together in a performance of great range and psychological depth. In a role which echoes Shakespeare’s King Lear, Eoin is able to show the power and indomitable spirit of a man who refuses to bend the knee to save his skin. It is a wonderfully uplifting moment and is moreover one of the great scenes in 20th century drama. For this performance alone I would pay to see this play. There is much more. Victoria Yeats is spot on as Elizabeth Proctor and Lucy Keirl is truly terrifying as the “witch” Abigail Williams.