The Crucible

24 Nov

The Crucible has drawn more tears from me than any other play.

And this incarnation by Emu Heights Productions is a powerful and deeply affecting presentation of a classic text.

There’s a heart rending three way tension in the play – that between what people say is true, what people think is true, and what actually is true.

It’s an exploration of the relationship between truth and power. (Does it suggest that real truth belongs only to the utterly powerless?)

It reminds us that assertions of truth are often politically motivated. (I’m inclined to say they always are.)

The Crucible

One of the reasons I find this play so affecting is Miller’s characterization of Reverend Hale, here played admirably by John Michael Burdon. Hale begins as the good-hearted but unconsciously ego driven expert only to become the great life affirming doubter. In the final scene, he advises Proctor to give the life saving lie, and I always leave the theatre wondering whether in this outlook there’s a blessed humility.

In contrast to Hale is Proctor’s warmhearted (or should I say red blooded?) common sense. The magic of Miller’s characterization is that Proctor is a man in his prime yet dogged by self doubt. Vincent Andriano portrays this marvelously. Proctor won’t make grand metaphysical statements; his feet are too firmly on the ground. But he knows what is not the case.  He can clearly say what is not true.  And, by sticking to this, he ultimately finds (or is it more accurate to say he creates?) a positive truth: that he is indeed a good man.

Director Ian Zammit has elicited strong performances from his cast. It’s a big one (nineteen) so I won’t try to describe all the performances. But I particularly enjoyed Naomi Livingstone’s multi-leveled portrayal of Abigail, a fascinating and frightening balance between playful coquette and cold hearted assassin, giving way at pivotal moments to the honest vulnerability of a woman terrified she may have over played her hand.  Emily Elise’s Mary Warren is a deeply moving portrayal of a girl out of her depth. And David Attrill wonderfully captures Giles, contentious, foolish and lovable; a portrayal crucial for the full impact of what must be one of theatre’s most moving offstage deaths.

And a last word about the design. It’s fluid and beautiful.

It’s one of the many elements that have gone into making this a very engaging and accessible production, one that has no doubt both pleased Miller fans and introduced great theatre to new audiences.

Veronica Kaye

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre

15 -23 Nov

More info about Emu Heights Productions

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