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Crucible (York)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Arthur Miller’s classic tale of accusation, social paranoia and deceit visits York Theatre Royal from 7-28 May as part of the <i>In the Round<i/> Ensemble Season. The timeless tale of friends turning against each other and lying to save themselves is one that can be likened to many modern day situations.

A simplistic set, designed by Dawn Allsopp and beautiful yet plain period costume by Catherine Chapman ensures that attention is maintained within the hysteria and panic of the narrative. The in-the-round staging ensures that all angles of facial expression and the panoramic experience of Abigail Williams and the other girls’ demonic ‘hallucinations’ are shared.

Most notable was Stephen Billington’s John Proctor. He portrays the internal battle towards godliness with masculine strength and anguish. In the final scene - as he falters whilst signing his confession and is ultimately hanged - his Jesus-like tortured physique and heartfelt reconciliation with wife Elizabeth is powerfully emotive. In contrast, Michael Roberts’ Judge Danforth is detached and insensitive which is essential for his authoritarian role but lacked the passionate anger of Jonathan Race’s Reverend Hale.

Six of the cast members are final year students at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama; their performances are faultless.

Lifelong lovers of <i>The Crucible<i/> cannot expect many surprises from this purist version which adheres closely to the original text. However, the in-the-round staging is a rare treat.

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