directed by Dominic Cooke
RSC March 2006
“Arthur Miller’s The Crucible has long been mistaken for one-dimensional allegory. It’s true Miller used the hysteria, public piety and private lies of the 1690s Salem witch trials to dramatize the horrors of McCarthyism, but the play is far more than simplistic parallel. Prescient political thriller? Courtroom chiller? Adulterous love drama? A production as thrillingly intelligent as Dominic Cooke’s for the RSC reveals the 1953 pride-and-perjury play to be all that and more.
Cooke’s masterly balancing of ideas, action and emotion is made manifest in the opening coup de theatre. Jean Kalman’s fierce streaks of light pick Salem girls out of velvet darkness dancing excitedly amid scalded bare trees at the back of Hildegard Bechtler’s set. Catching them, Reverend Parris (a marvelously terrified Ian Gelder) snatches up his daughter Betty. Accompanied by Gary Yershon’s unnerving sound score, he sweeps her downstage to a plain wooden bed as the two giant, stark-white side walls slam together behind him. A single tiny window flies open to suggest the natural world outside barred to the Puritans immured in Salem’s chilly propriety.
Superbly choreographed, the sequence is over in about 30 seconds but, like a strong staging of the crucial opening witches scene in Macbeth, it sets the show’s abiding tone: engrossingly abstracted, powerfully allusive and scarily unpredictable.”
Variety: April 15, 2006