the crucible

Last Saturday we went to see The Crucible performed by the Black Swan Theatre Company at the Playhouse. It was a preview, and the director, Tom Gutteridge, introduced the performance himself.

This was my second viewing of Arthur Miller’s play, the first being some time ago as part of the Perth Arts Festival by a UK company.

I remember the plot quite well, and the impression that it made on me then. The actors were very polished and the set austere. It was the historical background that haunted me for weeks afterward. That is, the combination of religion and law that was such a travesty of injustice both during the Salem witch trials, and the McCarthy anti-Communism period in the USA.

This time, the play was a little more rough round the edges. Being Preview Night, one could forgive that, but I felt overall that the performance was better for this interpretation and edge. Perhaps too, I can reflect on more current events than those provided as context for Arthur Miller, as we now have terrorists added to the mix of witches and communists.

I felt angry throughout and after the play, as I realised that the false accusers and paranoia are easily sparked today and distributed more widely. Also, I was reminded of the cruelty of young girls.

This is the first time that I have seen a play other than Shakespeare, more than once. It has got me thinking, that it would be interesting to seek out other productions of contemporary plays that I have seen before and remember (albeit imperfectly) the effect it had on me then.

Going to see The Crucible a second time is a crucible in itself. But even if you haven’t seen it before, the central themes are perpetual. Even that of the love triangle between the major antagonists; Abigail Williams and John Proctor, and his wife Elizabeth.

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