The Crucible

Arthur Miller
Sheffield Theatres
Crucible Theatre

Listing details and ticket info...

Rose Shalloo (Abigail Williams) and Company Credit: Manuel Harlan
Millicent Wong (Mary Warren) and Company Credit: Manuel Harlan
Simon Manyonda (John Proctor) and Anoushka Lucas (Elizabeth Proctor) Credit: Manuel Harlan

There are three significant time scales relevant to the current production of Miller's The Crucible at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.

In the early 1950s, Senator Joe McCarthy established an anti-Communist witch hunt which sought out and persecuted individuals in the State Department and the creative arts. Miller was called to meet charges and decided to write a play set in 1692 Salem about the Massachusetts witch trials of the period.

The third date is today when the current production is an accessible modernisation which "stays truthful to the soul of the play but brings a contemporary, operatic and playful take to it."

The play starts with an operatic chorus, and there are occasional sung items later in the action. A minimal set provides a raised seating area for the dignitaries, while a lower area is barely furnished with a large table, which has metaphorical significance, and a couple of plastic chairs. The emptiness of the space suggests a large, unadorned meeting hall.

The table is used to hide under and members of the cast frequently climb up on it for a variety of purposes or simply to provide height.

The cast and creative team contain many who are making their Sheffield Theatres debuts and acquit themselves well.

Sargon Yelda is convincing as the pusillanimous Parris, Simon Manyonda gives a strong performance as the rational, principled John Proctor, Millicent Wong is a sensitive Mary Warren.

Rose Shalloo as Abigail Williams is a disturbing presence throughout the play and in later scenes takes on a role as observer to the proceedings she has initiated. As more and more worthy people are called out as witches and hanged, she becomes a malevolent presence who silently watches and approves the evil that has been released.

In Miller's play, the scenes of argument and exposition are contrasted with the scenes of frenzy when the children believe that they have been possessed by evil spirits.

In Antony Lau's production, the rational is emphasised. As part of the stage equipment, large microphones are moved about so that significant sections from speeches can be selected for emphasis. In this presentation, the girls do not seem to be possessed by spirits but putting on an act. It is significant that Rebecca Nurse (a lovely performance by Alexandra Mathie) talks common sense, "I am 26 times a grandmother and I have seen them all through their silly seasons and when it come on them they will run the Devil bowlegged keeping up with their mischief." The erudite and superstitious men investigating the supposed witchcraft have no time for this.

Playing down the scenes of hysteria has created an imbalance in the action, which places much more emphasis on the scenes of argument. But nevertheless, always a good thing to see a production of a seminal play of the 1950s.

Reviewer: Velda Harris

*Some links, including Amazon,,, ATG Tickets, LOVEtheatre, BTG Tickets, Ticketmaster, LW Theatres and QuayTickets, are affiliate links for which BTG may earn a small fee at no extra cost to the purchaser.

Are you sure?