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Review Roundup: THE CRUCIBLE, Starring Erin Doherty

What did the critics think of Lyndsey Turner's new adaptation?

Review Roundup: THE CRUCIBLE, Starring Erin Doherty

A witch hunt is beginning in Salem. As a climate of fear spreads through the community, private vendettas fuel public accusations and soon the truth itself is on trial. 

Arthur Miller's gripping parable of power and its abuse returns in a new staging by director Lyndsey Turner at The National Theatre, starring Erin Doherty. So what did the critics think?

Cindy Marcolina: BroadwayWorld: Almost seven decades after its premiere, The Crucible remains a classic, and this production is brimming with thought-provoking commentary. In a society riddled with fake news, that bends over backwards to regulate a woman's body, justifying its laws with a magical book, The Crucible is frighteningly relevant. Turner's symbolism and exquisite abstraction make this an excellent, faithful transposition of the original material. Plus, it looks simply stunning.

Arifa Akbar: The Guardian: Erin Doherty, as Abigail, is full of urgent energy but her fearful anger seems overplayed and her character stays oddly flat: even her tender, pained private conversation with John Proctor in which she begs him to rekindle their passion, ends up sounding like an angry child's strop without the accompanying vulnerability. Brendan Cowell, as Proctor, is a rough, gruff farmer whose core of earnestness is revealed gradually.

Theo Bosanquet: WhatsOnStage: Erin Doherty makes a welcome return to the stage, having achieved stardom playing Princess Anne in The Crown, with an interpretation of Abigail, Proctor's vengeful former lover, that is skittish, frenzied and deeply malevolent. She channels the energy of a desperate fangirl, who will stop at nothing in pursuit of her idol. When she and the other girls perform their wild hallucinations, it feels genuinely frightening. One comes close to sympathising with the judges.

Nick Curtis: Evening Standard: It's presented on a stylised set by Es Devlin, a sloped platform, mirrored by an ominous slab of light above, hemmed on three sides by sporadic curtains of rain and echoing with religious chant. Instead of the usual puritan garb, the women in this American colony wear Laura Ashley-esque frocks, the men blue and khaki workwear that wouldn't look out of place in a Shoreditch maker's market today.

Clive Davis: The Times: The performances all round are more variable, and some of the directorial choices become a distraction. What, for instance, are we to make of the wall of rain that the designer Es Devlin has fall over the Olivier stage between scenes? An imposing biblical torrent, true, but I was troubled by the more down-to-earth thought of how the actors were going to keep their balance on the damp stage. And why are Brendan Cowell's earthy John Proctor and other yeoman farmers dressed in khaki and blue as if they were refugees from The Grapes of Wrath?

The Crucible is at The National Theatre until 5 November

Photo Credit: Johan Persson

From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre and opera. She is a... (read more about this author)

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