Arthur Miller’s tale, set at the time of the Salem witch trials, is a poignant commentary on the McCarthy led purge on communism in the United States of the 1950s. Such was McCarthy’s zeal that his efforts led to the term ‘McCarthyism’ finding its way into our dictionaries meaning ‘the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.’
Fast forward seventy years or so from McCarthy or three-hundred from Salem, and the parallels with our current political climate on both sides of the Atlantic is worryingly close to the bone – ‘this Russia thing’ springs to mind unbidden.
This long, intense, dark tale grows in incredulity as the story progresses and more and more innocent women are accused, arrested and hanged for being witches. Suspicion and hysteria rule as logic and truth struggle vainly to make their presence felt.
There are few likeable characters in this dark and sombre story. The Reverend Parris (David Kirkbride) is more concerned for his reputation than his daughter’s recovery. Thomas Putman (Carl Patrick) is greed personified, buying up land cheaply from those accused. Even the central characters, John Procter (Eoin Slattery) and his wife Elizabeth (Victoria Yeates) are flawed – he by infidelity, she by mistrust.
But this is not a play about individuals. It is a commentary on what becomes of society when, as individuals, we allow ourselves to be led. When we fail to question why. When we accept what is presented by those in power, because they are in power, and not because they know any more than we do.
Productions of The Crucible have provoked mixed reactions since it was first performed on Broadway in 1953. Doubtless this one will also. Whilst many of the lengthy monologues were delivered faultlessly I found the industrial background noises distracting and out of place, adding little to the mood or atmosphere.
Directed by Douglas Rintoul, this production is presented by Selladoor Productions and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch in association with Les Theatres de la Ville de Luxembourg. The show runs at The Mercury in Colchester until 3rd June
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]To book tickets to The Crucible at The Mercury click here[/box]