'Just sign...'

Theatre I was very sorry to hear about the death of Arthur Miller. The Crucible is one of the favourite plays that I didn't actually study in A-Level English. Unlike some, it seems immune to being produced poorly because the words and message are so clear. Although I'd seen the late nineties film, the first time I saw it in its original setting was in a church hall by an amateur group during the Edinburgh festival and it was just the most amazing bit of theatre I've ever seen.

The temorary seating was almost full, and the audience filled with forboding. The set looked like it had been borrowed from a school production of Jack And The Beanstalk. Just before the show, the director announced that one of the people was too to go on and so he would be playing the part -- by reading directly from the text. So there he was fishing his way through as though he'd never seen it before as all of the other actors tried to keep some performance going around him. One of the characters, an old man, was being played (unannouced) by some teenager in a t-shirt and jeans (I'm thinking lighting engineer).

By the end of the first scene, one third of the audience had gone. By the end of scene two another third had also disappeared. But those of us who stayed got to a fanastic final scene in which the actor playing Proctor gave a stunning performance. In the final moments, you could hear a pin drop, and it ended in a standing ovation. In the middle of what could have been a shambles, the play and its power survived.

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