The Crucible

Date 31st March 2022
Society Ulverston Outsiders Dramatic Society
Venue The Coronation Hall, Ulverston
Type of Production Play
Director Steve Carrick
Written By Arthur Miller

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Author: Martin Craig

The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a play in four acts. My previous encounter with this play was over forty years ago as part of a school trip (things have changed since then), and (from my recollection) is only the third play I have seen presented in District 11 since becoming NODA Rep.

Based on the Salem Witch trials of the late 17th Century, this story tells of suspected witchcraft, where basically a group of girls are caught dancing naked in the woods, and to deflect from their shame, they blame witchcraft and the devil. What happens next is a story of interwoven relationships, complex characters, injustice, deception, peer pressure and many other things you might find in an Eastenders Omnibus edition.

Rob O’Hara came across well as Reverend Parris, the Minister of Salem, constantly complaining how little he was paid and how little respect he had. Rob’s Parris came over as feeling the need to be right all the time, no matter how inconsequential the subject - as such, when his final retribution came, you had no pity for him, just a sense of justice (in a roundabout way).

The role of Reverend Hale is, I thought, one of the hardest roles in the piece to portray - the character switching from a rather sinister priest, whose initial motive seems to be to prove witchcraft, to a rather troubled empathic man. Duncan Lindsay managed to portray these facets throughout, looking and sounding convincing. The Reverend Hale was a brave man to challenge the court, and Duncan really did make us feel and see that conflict.

Adam Atkinson played John Proctor. John is very difficult role to play, as the journey for the character, from the down to earth, matter of fact man he is, to the finally repentant man he becomes is quite an arc to portray. Less subtle than Hale’s transformation, Adam gave a really good performance, and his commitment to the role was all there to see. If I had one niggle, it would be that as emotion and anger took hold in some of the scenes, some of the dialogue became a little lost.  This is only a little niggle, and could be down to sound, or even the lack of audience over the last couple of years - we’re all still trying to find our levels. In saying this, John’s assuredness to eventual rage were well measured.

Hayley Parsons played the part of Abigail Williams, John’s ex lover and the main antagonist throughout the piece. Hayley’s portrayal of Abigail was really good, great diction and believable characterisation. Hayley came over well as the troubled ringleader, showing us how easily it was possible to manipulate all around her through fear and intimidation.

Kirsty Goodall had the difficult role of Mary Warren. The part needs to show us the conflicted nature of her loyalties between being good or bowing to the peer pressure forced upon her through fear by Abigail. Kirsty did a great job of showing Mary’s innocence and confliction of duties.

Claire Boulter put in a great performance as Elizabeth Proctor who's life, love and future was in the balance. Elizabeth’s Stoicism was a great contrast to John Proctor’s rash, and sometimes overpowering nature, and Claire’s understated manner suited the role perfectly.

There are many roles in The Crucible, too many to review each individual, but I will say that each and every person involved in this production played their parts well. Wordy plays can be tedious - this wasn’t

Staging was quite simple, using the floor area in front of the stage and the stage itself with simple props and slats to define areas.

Acts 1, 2 and 4 taking place on the lower area with Act 3 taking place on the stage. With not remembering the play very well, I did initially wonder why the transition between Act one and two didn’t take place just by changing from floor to stage, thus saving an “open” scene change. With Act 3 taking place on the stage, it dawned on me that this was to show the piousness and difference between the Courtroom and the houses/prison. If this was the intention, it worked.

Lighting and sound were complimentary to the production.

I usually don't pontificate about things other than what is onstage, but I was impressed with the simplicity of the Broadsheet style of the programme.

Director Steve Carrick should be really pleased and proud of what the company attained under his charge. All had worked really hard on this production and it was all up there to see.

This play has been a labour of love for Ulverston Outsiders, initially due to be performed in Spring 2020 and having to postpone with less than a month to go, it could have been the easy way out to start back with something a little less challenging....... but that’s not in the Outsider’s nature.

Thank you, Ulverston Outsiders , for your invitation and hospitality.