by Arthur Miller .
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Inner Circle Regent’s Park NW1 4NR To 19 June 2010.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Thurs, Sat & 9,16 June 2.30pm.
Runs 3hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 826 4242 (24 hours).
Review: Carole Woddis 2 June.
A revelatory production.
Is Arthur Miller the greatest playwright of conscience of the late 20th century? You have to ask after last week’s searing revival of All My Sons and now Timothy Sheader’s revelatory, beautifully cast staging of The Crucible in the open air in Regent’s Park.
This is a giant stride for the Open Air Theatre. Long regarded as simply a delightful way to spend a summer’s evening watching `Shakespeare in the park’, last year’s triple Olivier accolade for its Hello Dolly! musical posted notice of something more ambitious beginning to take shape.
Now Sheader’s decision to launch the season with Miller’s 1953 examination of injustice, intimidation and superstition marks a further innovation. It may prove a hard act to follow.
Where All My Sons scorches by its examination of personal conscience within the profit motive, The Crucible sets a reluctant hero on a head-on clash with religion and the State. By any standards Sheader’s is a monumental revival. Staging it outside adds a thrilling newness to what is already a tension-gripped narrative. As the darkness gathers, a sense of cataclysmic events unfolding before our eyes becomes visceral reality.
Miller wrote The Crucible at the height of the McCarthy witch-hunts in the US. Set within the time frame of the 17th-century witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts, it became a clever political allegory of collective hysteria, applicable to any age.
Sheader, framing the action within a stunningly simple, effective design of a house imprinted on the stage, divided by trapdoors, lends the production a horrifying Stepford Wives dimension with his chorus of silent, staring, young Puritan girls.
At one moment you feel it’s a play about religious fundamentalism; then proto- feminist in its young women rebelling against all-powerful patriarchy. Conversely, then misogynist in its causal thread of vengeance from a woman scorned. Finally it becomes a paean to integrity and principled, if reluctant, heroism. There is no greater line in modern drama than John Proctor (an impassioned Patrick O’Kane)’s "And here’s the first marvel that I can" in his defiance of Oliver Ford Davies’s terrifying, unbending Deputy-Governor, Danforth. Tremendous.
Reverend Parris: Christopher Fulford.
Betty Parris: Ellie Paskel.
Tituba: Anni Domingo.
Abigail Williams: Emily Taaffe.
Susanna Walcott: Charlie Cameron.
Ann Putnam/Sarah Good: Alexandra Mathie.
Thomas Putnam: Geoff Leesley.
Mercy Lewis: Lucy May Barker.
Mary Warren: Bettrys Jones.
John Proctor: Patrick O’Kane.
Rebecca Nurse: Susan Engel.
Giles Corey: Patrick Godfrey.
Reverend John Hale: Phlip Cumbus.
Elizabeth Proctor: Emma Cunniffe.
Francis Nurse: Malcolm Rogers.
Ezekiel Cheever: Paul Kemp.
Marshal Herrick: Gary Milner.
Judge Hathorne: Christopher Hunter.
Deputy-Governor Danforth: Oliver Ford Davies.
Salem Village girls: Erica Bartrum, Tressa Brooks, Esther-Grace Button, Holly Elmes, Naomi Felton, Ellen Hindley, Terri Musson, Jessica Sîan, Verity Stansall.
Director: Timothy Sheader.
Designer: Jon Bausor.
Lighting: Paul Keogan.
Sound: Fergus O’Hare.
Sound Score/Composer: Nick Powell.
Movement: Liam Steel.
Fight director: Renny Krupinski.
Dialect coach: Charmian Hoare.
Voice coach/Text consultant: Barbara Houseman.
Fight director: Renny Krupinski.