Review: The Crucible

by Lynn on August 31, 2012

in The Passionate Playgoer

Friday, Aug. 31/12. CIUT FRIDAY MORNING, CIUT 89.5 FM:THE CRUCIBLE at Soulpepper until September 22.

1) Good Friday morning. It’s time for a theatre update with Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer.

Hi Lynn. What’s up in the theatre world?

Hi Rose.

It’s been a bit of a slow week so I’m doing catch up with one I’ve seen recently I thought was terrific namely The Crucible done by Soulpepper.

It plays until late September so you have time to see it.

2) Briefly what’s it about?

Written by American playwright, Arthur Miller. It was first produced in 1953 in New York and set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

It’s about the Salem witch hunts in which perfectly innocent people were accused of being witches, tried and then hung. Timid, easily duped people just joined the bandwagon, based on no information and ratted on their friends and the results were horrible.

The play of course is a metaphor for the same kind of witch hunts for communist sympathizers that went on in the States in 1952, when people were encouraged to turn in their friends as either members of the communist party or knew people who were members.

Sanctioned by government. Senator Joe McCarthy was the ringleader.
Many people lost their livelihoods, certainly in films. And careers were ruined. Prominent names in the arts turned in their prominent friends
This is a powerful play of innocents overcome by madness, stupidity and gullibility .

3) Obviously a powerful play. Is Soulpepper giving it a powerful production.

A shattering production, and yes very powerful. It’s directed by Albert Schultz and it’s some of the best direction I’ve seen him do. It’s full of a sense of foreboding because of the lighting, the quietness of the speaking and the driving thrust of those accusations.

At one point John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth are implicated. John and Elizabeth have been wary of each other. He cheated on her with a young woman who used to work for the family. John has been humbled by the humiliation but Elizabeth has been very slow to forgive him.

In any case the young woman who had the affair with John is at the centre of a group of young women who say they saw the devil and implicate several people of the town as witches. Elizabeth is one of them.

John says that Elizabeth is incapable of lying but she does that in court, after John has given contradictory evidence. That instance John says he told the truth and Elizabeth realizes that her lie has implicated him, the staging by Schultz is so precise that it makes you swallow hard. It is one of the most emotional of the play. This is fastidious direction and the results are terrific. This cast is very strong for the most part, but I have to mention two performances in particular.

As John Proctor, Stuart Hughes is electrifying. Proctor is a decent man who has strayed. Hughes is emotionally wounded and anxious. When he is asked by the court to give up everything including his good name, Hughes gives on the best performances of this incredible speech I have ever seen. As I said, the rest of his work is electrifying.

As Elizabeth Proctor, Patricia Fagan is tempered, cool, and equally moving and compelling. She loves John; can’t forgive him, but of course does when their world collapses. Terrific performances.

Thanks Lynn. That’s Lynn Slotkin our theatre critic and passionate playgoer. You can read Lynn’s blog at

THE CRUCIBLE plays at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until Sept. 22.

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