BWW Review: THE CRUCIBLE, Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Set in Salem in 1692, The Crucible opens with a child motionless on a bed. Her father is the town preacher and he is hysterical at the idea that his daughter has been dabbling in witchcraft as he suspects she has been involved in some sort of ritual with other girls in the woods. Accusations fly and arrests are made which send the whole town into a frenzy as the punishment for witchcraft is death by hanging.
The Crucible is originally a four Act play and there is text projected onto the stage with stage directions that signify where each Act should end. The text is also used for introductions as each character enters with their name and a brief description of their personality which is a nice touch. While the subject is mostly dark there are a few moments of light relief and one line in particular that stands out is "I never said that my wife was a witch, only that she was reading books!".
The simple staging means that the actors can really shine with their performances. Charlie Condou is excellent as Reverend Hale and this is also highlighted by his contrast with Reverend Parris, as a much fairer and more rational man. Special mention also goes to Patrick McKenzie as Judge Hathorn who was exceptional in the courtroom scenes and had a fantastic monologue in Act Three. Lucy Keirl is also very good as Abigail Williams, a thoroughly unlikeable girl who accuses multiple women of witchcraft to try and shift the blame from her own actions.
Chris Davy's lighting design is perfect for the piece and sets a very creepy atmosphere. Perhaps it is typical of an old theatre to be draughty but during the particularly eerie scenes I could swear the temperature dropped considerably!
While the play was originally staged in the 1950's there are themes that seem particularly relevant today. Those who are accused are the ones who are seen to be slightly different from everyone else and it is near impossible to prove your innocence once accused. A brilliant staging and fantastic performances make this well worth seeing.
The Crucible runs at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow until Saturday 17th June.