The Crucible

Two Year Diploma - Year 2 2008-2009


by Arthur Miller

Pavilion Theatre, New Road, Brighton
28th - 30th March 2009

Directed by Steve North

The Academy Of Creative Training Students Add New Fire To Contentious Arthur Miller

Play Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' (ACT productions, at the Pavilion Theatre, Brighton) is a parable not only for the communist-fearing times in which Miller lived, but for the ages before him and for events not yet seen by man"s eyes. Miller wrote the play (ostensibly about the witch trials at Salem) during the era of McCarthyism in the 1950's USA.

Although director Steven North in his programme blurb chooses to emphasise links between the play and the fear that led to the Abu Ghirab atrocities, it might be more fruitful to draw comparisons with events closer to home. The huge swathe of new government powers to snoop and pry into our lives has been built on a culture of the fear of the terrorist.

Councils use those powers, ironically, to snoop on those other thought-criminals, people who over fill their bins with supermarket packaging they never asked for, or people who lie to get their kids into a decent school. In essence I think that the play is not just about how fear is a kind of wildfire that poisons a society's mind and takes on a life of its own, but it is also an event seized upon by those in power to use as an excuse to exercise control and to extend their power.

In addition, fear of crime, fear of terrorism, fear of climate change, fear of daring to ever get angry or annoyed at anybody in authority no matter how rude they are, fear of talking to children, fear of letting your kids fall over in case someone cry's foul, fear of losing your job - these are all cancers of our society that eat away at our sense of civilisation and well being. Instead of searching for hope (for some, God), we merely do our best to hide from the things we fear (for some, the Devil).

Like the people of Salem we not glory in the mercy of our creator but skulk in the undergrowth clutching the hangman's rope, ready to repay our enemies in kind. We are heading not for a new dawn in our civilisation, then, but back to the caves (if of course we can find any unoccupied by weapons stockpiles or spent nuclear waste).

The students of ACT put on a very competent and well rehearsed production of this play. These are people who are still on a learning curve, and of course young people have to play old people and all that, but do not let that put you off.

Motivation, dedication and hard work stand any production in better stead than fancy gimmicks, soap stars or other electronic wizardry. Add to the mix a highly competent director (Mr North) and you have a production well worth watching.

The people of Brighton voted with their feet and the production was sold out. It takes much more than just friends and family to do that in this theatre. Sarah Barfoot (Abigail Williams) who was brimming with a sexual tension that more than filled the stage and Amr Mallassi (John Proctor) are my 'two' to watch out for here.

They stood out a mile in terms of talent and stage presence despite being amongst very good company indeed. I suggest they will have great careers ahead of them.

Howard Young, Theatre Editor,
The Brighton Magazine

Cast List

Reverend Parris ... George Trotter
Betty Parris ... Amy Eddisford-Kidd
Titubua ... Anastasia Anisimova
Abigail Williams ... Sarah Barfoot
Mercy Lewis ... Claire Chard
Ann Putnam ... Claire Chard
Thomas Putnam ... Robin Hannagan
Mary Warren ... Lis Long
John Proctor ... Amr Mallassi
Giles Corey ... Charles Church
Rebecca Nurse ... Susan Manning
Reverend John Hale ... Murray Simon
Elizabeth Proctor ... Jess Laity-Jones
Ezekial Cheever ... Robin Hannagan
Martha Corey ... Susan Manning
Deputy Governor Danforth ... Laurie Cannon
Susannah Walcott ... Jess Laity-Jones
Sarah Good ... Claire Chard

Assistant Directors - Elaine Heath & Chris O'Donnell
Stage Manager - Chris O'Donnell
Lighting Design - Geoff Hense
Wardrobe - Sascha Harman
Sound - Ben Kidd/Kidd Studios
Graphic Design - Adam Kidd