Dark Forces Circulate Around A Compelling Crucible At The Yard Theatre

The Crucible, The Yard Theatre ★★★★☆

By Matthew Holder Last edited 17 months ago

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Dark Forces Circulate Around A Compelling Crucible At The Yard Theatre The Crucible, The Yard Theatre 4
Photo: Helen Murray

In a 2018 interview, The Yard’s Artistic Director Jay Miller said that he wanted to bring a more radical performance practice into theatre. This intense, haunting (and haunted) version of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible does this in spades, while also managing to tell its moving and memorable story of false accusation and witchcraft.

Opening with chairs distributed across the stage, character’s names visible on each, actors enter, take up their seat and set the scene of this remote 17th century town. Dividing lines and changing roles between them in a nice illustration of how Miller turns history into drama, you quickly sense Salem’s fear of conjuring spirits, Voodoo and how the American continent stretched endlessly West, where Pagan forces threaten to overwhelm this community's hard-won Christianity and where hooded figures take up home among the irrationality.

Photo: Helen Murray

False accusation begins to crush the community until it bleeds, and performances soar. Emma D’Arcy (Elizabeth Proctor) is powerfully sympathetic as one of the accused witches and, after a slow start, Caoilfhionn Dunne as husband John Proctor, rages poignantly against bearing false witness in order to save himself. Jacob James Beswick (The Judge) conveys a relentlessness that Theresa May would admire and makes a well-argued case for tyranny when explaining that witchcraft, as a crime of invisibility, cannot be disproved.

Photo: Helen Murray

The whole cast is completely convincing and are equal to any of the various staging effects, though it's unclear why, at one point, actors speak to each other via microphones. This is a pitch-perfect and completely absorbing version of The Crucible.

The Crucible, The Yard Theatre, Unit 2A, Queen’s Yard, White Post Lane, Hackney, E9 5EN. Tickets £23, until 11 May 2019.

Last Updated 09 April 2019