Volume 4, Issue 5, (Originally published on Monday 26 August 2013)
The Crucible is always relevant; we’re always afraid of something and that is liable to break out into hysteria.
Seeing this show just after the ‘PNG solution’ was announced brought the issues into sharp relief. Why do witch hunts break out?
Arthur Miller presents a show where the why is obvious, leading to a discussion of the how.
The weak backed into a corner, and then given a way out by the strong, to condemn innocents; those weak will escape. Then momentum builds, played out through petty revenge dressed in official rags. The townspeople act in accordance with the threat, and so it will continues to rise until it plays out.
Seeing The Crucible again after high school underscored how well Miller’s plays are wrought and how good the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) are at staging shows.
From curtain up to the bows, the pressure builds higher; the dialogue crackles with energy.
David Wenham was terrific as John Proctor. He brought all the pathos and doubt of a man self-condemned.
The sets, sound design and lighting were all top notch, evoking the mud thrown about on pristine clothes.
Dramaturgy even solved what can be a problem for productions of this play: why John Proctor acts. In the film version, it is doubtful whether John slept with Abby. This then makes Goody Proctor’s reason for her coldness entirely in her own head. This problem: solved. A satisfying theatre-going experience all around.
The one thing you really want from The Crucible is, on reflection, absent. If the threat of hysteria is always present, how to avoid it? As a descriptive, but not normative, play The Crucible presents no answers. Perhaps it is because fear is always present.
• The Crucible ran at the MTC from 22 June – 3 August 2013.