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.
However, commercial producers Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt are set to give the revival a longer life, and much wider audience, by transferring it to the West End, opening in April (though exact dates are yet tbc) at the Gielgud Theatre, where they’ve previously taken the RSC’s Judi Dench-headed All’s Well That Ends Well and the Olivier Award-winning Jacobean season. The Gielgud, which has a prime location on Shaftesbury Avenue, has been dark since the premature closure of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None on 14 January (See News, 22 Dec 2005).
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, alongside Elaine Cassidy as Abigail. The cast also features: Trevor Peacock (as 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).
- by Terri Paddock
NOTE: Booking has not yet opened for the London season of this production.