By Tara Ramsay
Beenleigh Theatre Group chose to tackle a dark and complicated theatre play to kick of their 2019 season. ‘The Crucible’, by renowned playwright Arthur Miller, is a 1953 Tony award winning play that follows the literal trials and tribulations of the Salem witch hunt that took place in the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1692.
Director Roslyn Johnson understands the relevance of this play in today’s climate of ‘fake news’ and that certainly came across in her direction.
The eerie sound track sets the scene as the curtains open and the sound of girls playing rings around the theatre, there is a projection screen that fills the back wall with mesmerising images, a nice modern touch that introduces the play and is used multiple times throughout.
The simplistic set makes good use of timber palings and allows the focus to be completely on the performers. The back wall of the set was extremely close to the front of stage and with multiple characters on stage it did get crowded at times and it would have been nice to have seen some more depth.
The play opens with Reverend Parris (Dominic Bradley) praying over his ill daughter Betty Parris (Poppy Mimica) who he discovered dancing in the woods and chanting along with other young girls, including his niece Abigail Williams (Louella Baldwin) and his slave Tituba (Adunni Ekundayo), driving him to believe there is a darker force at play. Soon enough a revolving door of visitors stop by, some that provide comic relief to see if she ‘has wings’ and some for more sinister reasons including Reverend John Hale (Bradley Chapman), who owned the stage the moment he stepped through the door, to check if Betty has indeed been infected by a Satan.
I was impressed with the portrayal of Farmer John Proctor (William Boyd), who had an affair with Abigail and whose wife Elizabeth (Candice Smee) was one of many put on trial. He had a wonderful strength throughout, fighting to prove his wife’s innocence, and then ending up on trial himself, but it was his vulnerability that shone through when he asks ‘God in heaven, what is john proctor? What is john proctor?’ this line stayed with me and was my favourite moment in the performance.
Giles Corey (Richard Murphy) was a delight to watch and had some great one liners and Deputy Governor Danforth (John Stibbard) had a lovely regalness about him, though it is his that character condemns many to death.
Mary Warren (Mel Bobbermien) had a beautiful innocence about her and was so natural and relatable on stage, and during the court scene where she is being pulled left and right, you could see her slowly breaking down. The choreography of the other girls chanting along with Abigail on stage was also a memorable and effective moment.
It is a long play, but I was captivated until the end.
If you are in Queensland, grab your broom and head down to Beenleigh to support this local group, if you dare.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.