Travel to London is always a privilege and also a small dream come true if you have the opportunity to enjoy of the special magic that theater has. My last visit was doubly wrapped in magic because I could enjoy two so different, extraordinary and impressive plays simultaneously. First I will talk briefly about the play “The Crucible” which just finished its tour last September 13 at The Old Vic Theater.
Make a new representation of a theater play of so much prestige and popularity as written by Arthur Miller is certainly a very challenging job. Arthur Miller wrote this play in 1952 based on the named Salem witch trials occurred within the period of colonization of the United States in 1692 in the village of Salem (currently the state of Massachusetts). In this period of struggles between colonial families and Puritan fanaticism involved in paranoia, were sentenced to death 25 people accused of witchcraft, mostly women, and an even larger number incarcerated.
Coincidentally the play was first performed in London at The Old Vic in 1954 directed by Warren Jenkins with the actress Rosemary Harris and in 1965 Sir Laurence Olivier directed it with Colin Blakeley and Joyce Redman. This time is the multiple award-winning director and playwright Yaël Farber commissioned to take it back to the same theater and with an undeniable success. The excellent reviews and high audience approval have ratified.
Yaël Farber has managed to capture accurately the potential that the text of this play within. Perhaps the most commonly used adjective to describe this new production is ‘intense’. I totally agree with this but also add that it is electrifying, captivating, overwhelming, devastating. In summary, an immense work with a group of extraordinary actors and actresses without whom this success would not be possible.
Richard Armitage is the star of this classic Arthur Miller’s drama, giving life to the character of John Proctor. Many say that he seems born to play Proctor. I do not know if he was born or not for it but I can assure that his performance is masterful, transmitting without fear the pain, the suffering of a man who’s just trying to get his life back, his family and honor and honesty which means his name. Along with the exceptional work of Richard Armitage can admire the flawless performance of the young actress Samantha Colley in the role of Abigail Williams. It would be almost a crime not to mention some names more of this incomparable casting, such as Harry Attwell (Thomas Putnam), Marama Corlett (Betty Parris), Jack Ellis (Deputy Gov. Danforth), Ann Firbank (Rebecca Nurse), William Gaunt (Giles Corey), Anna Madeley (Elizabeth Proctor), Sarah Niles (Tituba), Adrian Schiller (Reverend John Hale), Michael Thomas (Reverend Parris) among others, without which the intensity of this production would not be possible.
I left amazed the care of every detail. Nothing left to chance, from the costumes, setting, and decoration of the entire theater to the haunting music that accompanies mainly scene changes in this production. Composed by composer and Sound-Designer Richard Hammarton, music creates a disturbing and dense atmosphere on stage. The actors and actresses themselves are responsible to shape the decor of each scene, something that seems almost like an elegant and slow choreography movements. Chairs that crawl or hit the ground hard echoing throughout the theater. As I have said, nothing is left to chance. A luxury have being able to enjoy this wonder twice.
If you have not had a chance to see it, I’m sorry that you have lost one of the most prodigious productions I’ve had the privilege of seeing in a long time. If you were among the lucky ones who attended The Old Vic know exactly what I’m talking about and I have no doubt that as much as I have enjoyed. In any case, there is still a chance to see this production as The Old Vic has announced that Digital Theatre was filming the production and will be broadcast to cinemas around the world and also available as a download, with dates and territories to be announced later this year. Definitely, rewarding and expected news. Now I invite you to watch the trailer, and I promise I’ll talk later about another play which I had the chance to see in my last visit to London: Richard III with Martin Freeman.
Thanks to all for reading.
Trailer: The Crucible starring Richard Armitage at the Old Vic