Review: The Crucible, Gielgud Theatre

Lyndsey Turner’s phenomenal production of The Crucible transfers successfully from the National Theatre to the West End

“There are wheels within wheels”

One of the highlights of my theatregoing last year, Lyndsey Turner’s exceptional production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible has made its way from the National Theatre to the West End, this somewhat re-cast version taking up root at the Gielgud Theatre for the summer. And if you’re not in the gods, Es Devlin’s magnificent curtain of rain adds to the aircon so it proves as a good a place as any to escape the sweltering temperatures of late.

It remains a creative masterpiece. Devlin’s yawning chasm of a set design proves full of surprises and flexibility as its forced perspective reinforces the feeling of being trapped. Tim Lutkin’s exquisite lighting possesses such painterly quality that the scene in the Proctors’ house could be an Old Master. The droning ubiquity of Tingying Dong and Christopher Schutt’s sound design cultivates an atmosphere of unease from the off.

This largely new cast maintain the excellent work of predecessors Erin Doherty and Brendan Cowell. House of the Dragon star Millie Alcock steps in as Abigail Williams, fervently committed to the cause of chaos that she’s created and Brian Gleeson’s John Proctor is every inch the flawed everyman, his damaged decency achingly sincere even as the mob mentality fixates upon him and his wife, a terrifying indictment of groupthink no matter the era.

Fisayo Akinade and Matthew Marsh both return as (ultimately) different sides of the powerful religious establishment that rules so cruelly, as does an exceptional Karl Johnson, so very achingly good until the last. The overall feel is of a genuine classic being given the full-wattage genuine classic treatment and it feels so salutory that it is now in the West End. A pointy reckoning for you if you don’t book.

Running time: 2 hours 50 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg
The Crucible is booking at the Gielgud Theatre until 2nd September

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