The Crucible is a play about a terrible period in American history. False accusations of witchcraft by some devious girls gradually take possession of the sleepy town of Salem. Before the play is over, good people of gentle nature and responsible temper are condemning other good people to the gallows and everyone attacks one another. The terrible ordeal ends in tragedy as tens of innocent people lose their lives whilst the guilty girls remain intact.
In this version of the play the director decided to use an ‘in the round’ stage design where we as the audience were sat round in a square round the main action of the play.
The playhouse had raked seating a lower ground and a balcony, we sat down in the lower level which I felt was better for viewing the play rather than up in the balcony as they all looked rather uncomfortable as they had to lean right over the edge to look down.
The play being in the round was appropriate for that style of drama. The ‘fly on the wall’ effect was very distinct and I truly felt like I was in the scene with them as they went along. Our close proximity meant that it was a very intimate venue and we felt involved. I could literally reach out and touch the actors. This intimacy was particularly effective later on in the play when due to our seating arrangement around the stage we felt like a jury seated around judging the convictions of the witches in the courtroom.
In the play the director decided to use four different sets.
1. The Reverend Parris’ house
2. John Procter’s Shack
4. Jail Room
The lighting in the play was quite stunning in some of the scenes. The play began with the cast chanting in the dark where the only light source were the candles they held, this was very effective in casting a very dark, ethereal effect which added to the tragic feel to the whole play. Throughout the play the cast continued to use candles which they appropriately put out at certain times to cast the whole room into darkness, particularly effective when the witches were summoning the dark spirits.
Another nice idea that I thought was quite effective was when the ‘witches’ began talking to God and tried to rid themselves of their evil spirits as they did so they looked up heavenwards and flayed out their arms and as they did so a strong beam of light fell upon them symbolizing the lights from the heavens. This was particularly effective in juxtaposing the original dark evil of the girls and suddenly exposing them in this bright, white light.
The final touch that they added with the lights was a shadow system in the last scene. This scene was meant to be a prison cell and instead of big props to symbolise this, the director chose to have the lighting rigged so that it cast a shadow as if light was shining through the bars of the prison windows. This was simple yet effective because it meant there were no props resembling the bars of the cell to obstruct our view.
There weren’t many sound effects used in the play as the director obviously relied on the actors skills at acting in conveying any settings or scene changes. However they did use one sound effect, which I thought was absolutely vital for me. In the second scene, in John Proctor’s cottage, I was confused as to where this place actually was, it was only the chirping of the birds in the background and the general forest noises that told me this was in the woods or nearby in the vicinity. I felt that without that I may have lost the plot a bit in that scene, trying to work out, where the actors were meant to be,
Acting and Character Interaction:
John Procter: A thirty something man, John Procter came across as rather tired, grumpy and rude towards his wife. It seemed that he didn’t appreciate her from the way he spoke in harsh, short sentences and constantly flying off the handle, when she didn’t satisfy him.
It was only as the play developed, we realised that he was only gruff with her because he was embarrassed that he had done a terrible thing (had an affair) and she still loved him and had forgiven him. When his wife is taken away, John Procter becomes protective of her and begins to show his true love for her. He criticises anyone who says a bad word about her.
Procter was rather tall and burly and he used this to his advantage by threatening people to get what he wanted. He often raised his voice and often looked discontent by either wrinkling up his nose in disgust or turning beetroot red which we knew was a sign he was going to start shouting. I felt he was not someone who really understood his emotions properly and certainly never liked to let his soft side be exposed.
For the majority of the audience the play went down a treat and everyone really enjoyed themselves. Overall I really enjoyed the play, but I felt that not all my friends were of the same opinion, they became rather restless quickly and kept talking through which was incredibly aggravating. Perhaps the topic is not really gripping for the younger audience and come to think of it perhaps it wasn’t because a lot of the language was difficult to interpret but I didn’t seem to have too much of a problem which is probably the reason I enjoyed it because I didn’t have to waste time working it out before hand.