© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Hobbit star Richard Armitage is being lined up to play John Proctor in The Crucible, which opens at the Old Vic Theatre on June 24.

Directed by South African director and playwright Yael Farber, who had a hit last year with her production of Mies Julie at the Riverside Studios, the production will also feature newcomer Samantha Colley as Abigail Williams, who has just graduated after taking a three-year acting course at the Oxford School of Drama.

Armitage will be known to most for his work on screen, including Robin Hood, Spooks and as Thorin in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.

The Crucible is set in the town of Salem, Massachusetts, where in 1692, 19 adults and two dogs were hanged for witchcraft, and one man was pressed to death for refusing to plead. Inspired by the events of the McCarthy era, by the actions of the witch-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee of the 1950s, in front of which playwright Arthur Miller was invited to give evidence, in effect to betray his friends.