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The Crucible by Adelaide Theatre Guild - Review

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
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When fear becomes truth, reason is abandoned
The Crucible at Little Theatre by Adelaide Theatre Guild


The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild's production of Arthur Miller's powerful historical play, The Crucible, is set against the background of the Salem Witch Trials in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692/93. This production presents a captivating weight on the very familiar and timeless themes of religious prejudice as fear and manipulation erupts, seemingly without reason in a small god-fearing village, when a teenage girl is struck down with an unexplained illness. Uncontrollable hysteria erupts as the existence of witches is believed to be responsible.

The Crucible at Little Theatre by Adelaide Theatre Guild
The Salem Girls Photo courtesy of ATG.


Director, Geoff Brittain's production is set in the 1600s, while Miller was really taking aim at McCarthyism in the United States during 1950's. However, the themes of the play are still as relevant today, as Miller uses witchcraft to show religion can be manipulated to create false truths and conformity.

The entire cast delivered believable performances from beginning to end. It was wonderful to see a cast with such a wide range of ages engaging with the audience. Kim Clark as the flawed hero, John Proctor and Zoe Dibb as the teenage opportunist and Abigail Williams, conveyed convincingly their story as their illicit relationship unfolded. Cheryl Douglas plays John's wife, Elizabeth with fire and determination. During the stirring court scene when John and Elizabeth Proctor engage with the judges the feelings raised are realistic and immediate.

The Crucible at Little Theatre by Adelaide Theatre Guild
The courtroom. Photo courtesy of ATG.


Further outstanding performances from Chris Leech as Reverend Parris and Steve Marvanel as Judge Danforth. Leech is menacing as the "fire and brimstone' preacher, while Marvanel as the cold and calculating judicial figure reminds the court of his position and power and of those he has sentenced.

From the opening scene in the woods where we are introduced to a rowdy bunch of mischievous girls, portrayed by Gabi Douglas, Zoe Muller, Kelsey Lampard, Ashley Penny, Rhonda Sylvester as they dance, yell and scream while one girl seemingly appears naked as she dances. Their antics result in chaos in the small community and their hysterical performances in the courtroom are so convincing it is easy to understand why the judges would believe them to be possessed.

The smaller roles of the villagers caught up with the growing paranoia, performed by David Haviland, Alex King, Philip Lineton, John Sabine, Deborah Walsh are all convincing.

All the sets, props and costumes appear authentic. The stark sets comprising of furniture and an old wooden door are minimal, but effective in capturing the atmosphere and feel of the 1600s. The cast are suitably attired in provincial costumes reflecting the times. The lighting flood lights the stage for the entire performance, with rear projection emphasising some action. The rear projection really didn't seem necessary as the performances and dialogue are captivating enough to reflect the action on the stage.

Although The Crucible is a regular part of English Drama classes, Brittain's production is likely to appeal to theatre-goers because of its exciting performances and timeless themes which are still relevant today.

Directed by Geoff Brittain

Costume Design by Trudi Williams

Lighting Design by Richard Parkhill


Cast: Kim Clark, Zoe Dibb, Cheryl Douglas, Gabi Douglas, David Haviland, Alex King, Kelsey Lampard, Chris Leech, Philip Lineton, Steve Marvanek, Esther Michelsen, Zoe Muller, Stuart Pearce, Ashley Penny, John R. Sabine, Rhoda Sylvester, Ben Todd, Jean Walker and Deborah Walsh.
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Why? Opportunity to see one of the greatest dramas of American theatre performed by The Adelaide Theatre Guild under the direction of Geoff Brittain, Winner of Best Show Drama for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (presented in August 2015.)
When: Saturday 6 August, Tuesday to Saturday 9-13 & 16-20 August 2016, 7.30pm
Phone: Group Bookings 10 at concession rate from 8313 5999 only.
Where: Little Theatre, The Cloisters (off Victoria Drive, gate 10), University of Adelaide. Ticket machine in Cloisters parking area. WE RECOMMEND YOU ALLOW EXTRA TIME FOR PARKING WHEN THERE IS AN EVENT ON AT ADELAIDE OVAL.
Cost: Tickets $28 Full / $23 Concession Group Bookings: 10 at Concession rate NO REFUNDS OR EXCHANGES AVAILABLE. PLEASE NOTE TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ON THE DOOR WITH CASH FOR ALL PERFORMANCES ONCE TRYBOOKING CLOSES (4pm weekday performance)
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