The reason is to re-imagine The Crucible and what this cautionary tale means in our current era of fear mongering and persecution. Are they successful? Not quite. Are they trying? Absolutely.
At the start, an ensemble of nine actors - in contemporary dress - plainly state both the stage directions and the spoken text in regional UK accents. The style shifts, with some actors using New England accents. Another shift and all actors use the play’s intended US diction and dress in 17th Century garb. It shifts again, with the modern and the historical merging and distorting.
Unnerving masked figures appear and increasingly populate the stage. They are the witches, the contagious fear that infects the play’s proceedings.
Neon lighting design by Jess Bernberg is complimented by an equally lurid set design by Cécile Trémolières. Abrasive, indulgent sound design by Josh Anio Grigg and garish video design by Sarah Readman add to the increasingly psychotropic ambience.
The ensemble work as a tight unit, with actors multi-roling and portraying characters that have been merged into one due to the slimmed down cast. Emma D’arcy, of TV show Wanderlust, gives an understated yet stand-out performance as Elizabeth Proctor, the deeply hurt, unwavering wife of John.
Jacob James Beswick controls the stage as the spritely yet sanctimonious judge, providing the most laughs during this traditionally solemn play. Jack Holden makes crystal clear the emotional upheaval of the upright and naïve Reverend Hale.
This is allegedly the first ever production where the soothsaying protagonist John Procter has been gender flipped, with actress Caoilfhionn Dunne playing the lead. It has been made out that this is a controversial decision, however it neither adds nor retracts from the text. It is simply a skilled actor playing a complex role with confidence and consideration. There is in fact gender swapping from the cast throughout. Dunne gives a finely tuned, emotionally wrought performance as John and is a key force in keeping up the momentum of this three hour and twenty minute production.
Even if you are an Arthur Miller purist, it is still worth taking a risk on this ambitious, not yet fully realised, experimental production
|What||The Crucible, The Yard Theatre review|
|Where||Yard Theatre, Unit 2a Queen’s Yard, London , E9 5EN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Hackney Wick (overground)|
27 Mar 19 – 11 May 19, 19:00pm, Monday - Friday; 13:00: & 19:00 Saturdays
|Website||Click here for more information and to book tickets|