The Crucible

Drama school theatre and The Crucible are words that fill me with fear. Throw in the fact that it’s at half ten in the morning and the combination should have spelt disaster. Fortunately, Close Up Theatre’s production of The Crucible is a powerful, compelling version of the play that managed to make me forget those days spent reading Arthur Miller’s play in a stuffy classroom. The Crucible is a powerhouse of a play that lends itself well to reinterpretation and remains all too relevant for any generation. Based on the Salem witch trials of 1692, The Crucible was Miller’s not-so-subtle allegory for McCarthyism; as a play that explores mass hysteria and exposes the justice system, it still feels fresh and relevant – its weighty message is carried well by this young cast.

To walk into a theatre and immediately be declared a ‘witch’ is an unnerving experience for anyone. The atmosphere of infectious gossip is set up by the cast who stand amongst the audience, pointing and whispering ‘witch’ at us, whilst an eerie blue glow settles upon the space. This is a very clever set-up that put me on the edge of my seat. It’s a shame this kind of innovation isn’t kept up during the performance itself, which remains a conventional version of the play with classic costuming and bare staging. As a period piece it attempts to capture the intensity of Miller’s play rather than reinvent it.

The dodgy American accents are really dreadful and impossible to ignore. The stage becomes a melting pot of voices and the cast sound as though they’ve come from every corner of America. There are too many moments of slipping back into English with some Irish intonations thrown in there too. A few of the casts’ accents reminded me of Top Cat and it took me at least fifteen minutes to get over this.

The accents are forgivable though because the acting is very good and the riveting script and compelling drama of the play makes the accents easy to block out. The leads are excellent and Charlie Coombs gives a particularly strong, impassioned performance as John Proctor. He perfectly captures Proctor’s sense of inner torment and acts as an admirable figure amongst the insanity of Salem. Beatrice Lawrence is also sympathetic as his wife and their fractured relationship is well displayed by the pair. By the end of the play you really do care about the characters, which is testament to the strength of their acting.

It’s an intense two and a half hours though, and they could have done with cutting down some of the longer sections of Miller’s script. Still, staging it in full is a brave decision. Once you get over the questionable accents, there’s some first-rate acting here and it’s no surprise that Close Up Theatre are a sell-out theatre group. For all its flaws, this is an impassioned piece that packs the punch Miller’s script is going for. It will certainly make you think twice about telling a little white lie in the future.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Arthur Miller's famous Tony Award-winning re-telling of the 1692 Salem witch trial hysteria, a powerful modern tragedy of one man's search for self. Sell-out shows 2004 to 2011.

Most Popular See More

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets