facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen. #IMissTheatre

The Crucible at the Gielgud theatre

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 6 June 2018

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible now transfers to London’s Gielgud theatre after a successful run in Stratford. Written in response to the McCarthy communist hunts in the 1950s, Miller uses the historical basis of the Salem witchhunts three centuries earlier to create his ‘act of resistance’ against political and religious fear gone mad. Iain Glen steps into the farmer’s boots of John Proctor, Miller’s voice of reason in a time of madness. Caroline Bishop attended the first night…

Dominic Cooke’s production for the RSC begins with a depiction of a group of Salem teenage girls dancing in the woods – the singular event that sparks the spiral of accusation leading to the community’s decimation. Though merely bored and after a bit of harmless fun, the girls’ action is interpreted as witchcraft by a group of small-minded, God-fearing villagers who need something to blame for the hardship in their lives. The adults are pompous and self-important, and the two Reverends Hale (Robert Bowman) and Parris (Ian Gelder) seize on the opportunity to inflate their own egos and further impose their religious shackles on the community. The teenagers, scared about the consequences of their ‘sin’ of dancing, see a way out when the adults proffer up the notion of witchcraft and the good deed they would be doing by confessing and accusing others.

Miller illustrates the revenge factor of both the 1950s and 1690s witchhunts through the central triangle of John Proctor (Glen), his wife Elizabeth (Helen Schlesinger), and the manipulative Abigail (Elaine Cassidy), the ringleader of the teenage accusers. Spurned by Proctor, who had a brief affair with her, Abigail uses her new power in the court to take revenge on Proctor by accusing his wife of witchcraft, so hoping to hop into the marital bed after she is hanged for her ‘crimes’.

As the situation escalates, even the most devout of people cannot escape the accusations as the girls’ silly hysteria engulfs the town and is readily believed by the authorities. The religious extremism of Deputy Governor Danforth (James Laurenson), who heads the court, means that innocents must ‘confess’ in order to save their necks from the hangman, and he utters the famous line “A person is either with this court or he is against it”. To any reasonable person, embodied by Proctor, the situation seems ridiculous, but Miller clearly shows how fear overtook all reason in both eras, as it still can today.

Even without all the political implications and resonances of Miller’s play, The Crucible is simply a great story. Despite its length, the drama keeps a good pace and the RSC interprets some lines with a touch of humour that nicely offsets the tension. Miller’s dramatic conclusion is a satisfying end to a gripping piece of drama.

CB

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.