Director: Yaël Farber
Writer: Arthur Miller
Cast: Richard Armitage, Harry Attwell, Samantha Colley, Natalie Gavin, Anna Madeley, William Gaunt, Jack Ellis, Ann Firbank, Adrian Schiller, Neil Salvage, Michael Thomas
Seen on: 03.02.2015
A girl has fallen ill in Salem and witchcraft is suspected. When a group of young girls led by Abigail Williams (Samantha Colley) starts to act possessed, things quickly run out of control and one woman after the other is accused of being a witch, apprehended and put on trial. But Abigail has her own motives and they revolve around John Proctor (Richard Armitage) who had a short-lived affair with her some time ago. John doesn’t realize the gravity of the situation at first, but as things continue to spiral out of control he finds himself more and more involved.
I remember reading The Crucible in school and quite liking it (though I couldn’t remember the details anymore), but this production really didn’t do it for me, despite the really excellent cast.
I’m not the world’s biggest Richard Armitage fan (and I’m continuously bewildered by the fact that I don’t find him attractive since he is like 100% my type, but that’s just a sidenote), though that is mostly due to the roles he usually plays. He was well-chosen for the role of Proctor, which has a little more to offer than just broodiness, though personally I thought that the women, especially Anna Madeley and Samantha Colley clearly outplayed him. But generally speaking, the cast was excellent.
And the play is really good, too – smart and opinionated, but above all MIller has an eye for characterizations and making the reactions of his characters feel perfectly natural. There is so much between the lines here, it really deserves a close examination – from politics to how quickly you get an impression of the town’s social structure.
But I did have my issues with the production and especially with the direction. It starts with the actors walking across stage with chairs in artifical fog. I assume there is some symbolic meaning to this, or maybe it’s just a bit to lay the mood for the play. In any case, it is boring and too long – and if it was the point to give us a taste of what the entire production would be like, it totally succeeded, since the entire play felt absolutely endless.
And I understand why you would opt for a color scheme that is as much black and white than real life can ever get – pretty much everything is black or brown – but it just emphasized the lackluster mood. This is a play where emotions run extremely high. It is a play about mass hysteria. It should definitely not feel completely repressed and cold. But that’s exactly the effect it had on me. It was counterproductive, to say the least, and I was just glad when the play was finally over.
Summarizing: maybe I should re-watch the film and see how that holds up. But I’d rather not watch this version of it again.