dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

The Crucible review at Edinburgh Playhouse – ‘triumphant and elemental’

Constance Devernay in The Crucible. Photo: Jane Hobson
by -

It’s sad to note that Arthur Miller’s 1953 conflation of the Salem witch trials and the McCarthy hearings of the playwright’s own era has become resoundingly relevant once more. This is the second version of the summer to be staged by a Scottish company.

There’s visual and thematic comparison with The Handmaid’s Tale, of course – another story of the religious subjugation of wimple-wearing women. Away from the sharp shock of #MeToo timeliness, however, there are even deeper subtexts relating to the psychosis of insular societies and the fearsome violence possible at the end of the echo-chamber, groupthink rainbow.

Scottish Ballet’s triumphant new version of the text makes all of the above crushingly clear and accompanies it with a sense of terror and overwhelming dread that belies the beauty of Helen Pickett’s choreography. The flowing, devotional synchronicity of the entire cast in formation at worship is stunning, while the jerky, inhuman movements of the religious inquisitors and the fluttering en pointe shuffle of the quartet of young female accusers lend a sense of animals hunting in packs.

The vivid sensuality of John Proctor (Nicholas Shoesmith) and servant girl Abigail (Constance Devernay) is lit as shadow-play against the backdrop’s ominous tilting square cross, while Abigail’s wild fury at being snubbed dances itself out wildly through a shaft of light from the heavens.

The girls’ first night of ‘Satanic’ possession is eerie and elemental, the ultimate fate of the accused horrifying amid Peter Salem’s thunderous score. Miller’s text and the intentions behind it once more become relentlessly, fearsomely real.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Scottish Ballet brings Arthur Miller’s classic to fearsome, elemental life for the Edinburgh International Festival
^