Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

The Crucible @ Olivier Theatre...

Last Saturday afternoon Stuart and I went to see Arthur Miller's The Crucible at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.
Directed by Lyndsey Turner and designed by Tony Award-Winner Es Devlin the production was good. And by ‘good’ I mean we enjoyed it. It was generally well acted, largely well staged, and mostly packed the necessary punch the material demanded. But it lacked something. Something important. Emotional engagement.
The play - a powerful allegory of 1950s McCarthyism and the Red Scare - is set in 1692–93 at the Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 
In Salem young girls claimed to be possessed or witnessed possession and accused many people of being witches. Nearly all were believed. In total more than 200 people were accused. Thirty people were found guilty, 19 of whom were executed by hanging (14 women and five men). One other man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death after refusing to enter a plea, and at least five people died in jail. It's a powerful story.
But herein lies the issue we had last Saturday. We didn't really feel involved. Engaged. We didn't really care about the outrageous miscarriages of justice as they were presented. And we should have done. Maybe it was the alienating curtain of water that surrounded the action inbetween set changes? Maybe it was the at times uneven and at times underpowered acting? Maybe it was the often overcrowding on stage, the rather incongruent costumes, or the overdone chanting background choruses? Or all of the above.
Back in 2014 Yaël Farber's Old Vic production was far superior. Not least because then it was performed in the round with the cast among the audience so we felt part of the mob. Complicit, if you will. Last Saturday we felt like outsiders.
It was good as I say, but it should have been excellent. Such powerful material deserves such excellence.


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