Review: The Crucible, Diss Corn Hall

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Arthur Miller’s Crucible is such an important work in the canon of English literature (and a fixture of the school curriculum for generations) that it’s hard to imagine what else can be done with it. Yet Yael Farber’s robust new production is both illuminating and gripping.

The cast is uniformly excellent. Richard Armitage as Proctor and Christopher Godwin as Judge Hawthorne command the stage with their alternate shades of self-righteousness, while Samantha Colley is terrifying as a young woman spurned, determined to do damage.

Anna Maddeley’s handles the difficult role of Elizabeth with great clarity, while Adrian Schiller’s tortured John Hale, bereft as his worldview crumbles, emerges as the moral heart of the play.

Miller famously used his account of the Salem witch trials to pass comment on Joseph McCarthy’s paranoia, but Farber has allowed a more explicit condemnation of religious fundamentalism, and its exploitation by petty individuals, to emerge. By doing so, she demonstrates how relevant the play remains.

DAVID VASS