Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Review: The Crucible on Screen

The Crucible on Screen 
Filmed at the Old Vic

“A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours…”

Written sixty years ago about events that took place more than 300 years ago, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is still just as shocking and relevant.

Yaël Farber’s production, which was staged at The Old Vic earlier this year, is one of the darkest versions of the play I have ever seen – both literally and metaphorically. Performed in the round, certain parts of the tale were more emphatic, depending on where you were sitting.

Digital Theatre have now captured all the drama, taking the play to a whole new level. It is remarkable that audiences around the world can immerse themselves in this story of witchcraft, lust and superstition.

The opening scene of The Crucible immediately builds the tension, as the cinematography combines various views of the stage and the actors to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. This is of course enhanced by the fact that there is no dialogue at all for several minutes. All the audience can do is watch and wait as the eerie music and slow motion footage create a sense of foreboding.

Richard Armitage as John Proctor really commands the stage, and his presence becomes more intense and powerful now that we see it close up; Adrian Schiller (Reverend John Hale) and William Gaunt (Giles Corey) also come across particularly well on screen. Each character’s emotion is there for us to see, and most of the cast rise to the challenge (although there are a few unrealistic tears).

For anyone who does not know the story it is still perhaps a little tricky to work out who is who, especially as the costumes are all very similar. However, the final act becomes more realistic as we see the gaunt, bruised and dirty faces of the cast much more closely and the effect of the make-up remains shocking.

As everyone knows, The Crucible is a long, not to mention emotionally draining (especially for the cast) play, but if Digital Theatre's version is released for home audiences it can be watched at a more leisurely pace, without losing any of the intense drama that Miller intended. You now have a second chance to catch this remarkable production.

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes

The Crucible is screened in UK and Irish cinemas on 4th and 7th December 2014.
Please visit for further info.

Photo Credit: Johan Persson

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