Dominic Cooke’s production opened at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre last week (28 February) to strong reviews – in stark contrast to the Old Vic’s Robert Altman-directed UK premiere of Miller’s second-to-last play Resurrection Blues (See News, 6 Mar 2006) – but has only a handful of dates there, as part of the RSC’s bard-free winter schedule ahead of next month’s launch of the year-long Complete Works Festival (See News, 26 Apr 2005). The Crucible finishes its Stratford run on 18 March 2006.
Set in 1692 in Massachusetts, The Crucible centres on the reign of terror unleashed during the Salem witchcraft trials, but was in fact a thinly veiled response from Miller to the 20th-century "anti-American" communist witch-hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
This revival is the company’s first ever major, main-stage production of a play by Miller, who died last February at the age of 89 (See News, 11 Feb 2005) – although a 1984 RSC production of the same play did tour regionally. Miller’s many other now-classic plays include All My Sons, A View from the Bridge and, revived last year in the West End with Olivier Award winner Brian Dennehy as Willy Loman, Death of a Salesman.
At the time of announcing the production (See News, 26 Apr 2005), RSC artistic director Michael Boyd commented: “Arthur Miller is one of a handful of 20th-century dramatists to match Shakespeare's deep humanity and his political and spiritual range. It's as a tribute to Miller that we're presenting The Crucible; a timely revival for a play about democracy and moral leadership.”
In the new RSC production, Iain Glen (pictured) stars as John Proctor. Glen’s many credits include Hedda Gabler, The Seagull, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Blue Room on stage, Gorillas in the Mist, Tomb Raider and Mountains of the Moon on screen.
The cast also features: Elaine Cassidy (as Abigail), Trevor Peacock (Giles Corey), Robert Bowman (Reverand Hale), Ken Bradshaw (Ezekiel Cheever), Tim Chipping (Herrick), Ian Gelder (Parris), James Laurenson (Danforth), James Pearse (Hopkins), Clifford Rose (Francis Nurse), James Staddon (Thomas Putnam), John Stahl (Hathorne), Laura Elphistone (Susannah Walcott), Alison Garland (Mercy Lewis), Lorna Gayle (Tituba), Darlene Johnson (Rebecca Nurse), Susan McGoun (Sarah Good), Caroline O'Neill (Ann Putnam), Helen Schlesinger (Elizabeth Proctor), Catherine Skinner (ensemble), Michelle Terry (Mary Warren) and Zoe Thorne (Betty Parris).
The Gielgud Theatre has been dark since the premature closure of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None on 14 January (See News, 22 Dec 2005). Commercial producers Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt have previously taken the RSC’s Judi Dench-headed All’s Well That Ends Well and the Olivier Award-winning Jacobean season into the same theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Meanwhile, another Bill Kenwright production, Peter Hall’s revival of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, starring Judi Dench, has – as previously tipped (See The Goss, 3 Mar 2006) - moved its press night at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket. The production was scheduled to open on 19 April 2006 (previews from 5 April) for a limited season to 5 August 2006. While other dates will remain the same, the press night will now be a day later, on Thursday 20 April.
As originally scheduled, the opening clashed with RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon opening of Antony and Cleopatra, starring Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter, the second production in the company’s year-long Complete Works celebration. After the Coward comedy, Dench herself will head to Stratford to appear in a musical version of The Merry Wives of Windsor in the second half of the festival (See News, 11 Jul 2005).
- by Terri Paddock