Edward Alderton Theatre
by Arthur Miller
Directed by Neal Flux
8-15 July 1978 (7 performances)
1692: Salem, Massachusetts. When teenagers are discovered in the woods playing an innocent game, they are accused of witchcraft by the town elders. They only way they can avoid punishment is to name the others involved. But when simple farmer John Proctor gets caught up in things, events turn even more serious...
Cast Betty Parris Tracy Clifford Samuel Parris Steve Marshall Tituba Maureen Hardwen Abigail Williams Jill Rafferty Susanna Wallcott Tiny Bicknell Ann Putnam Jean Franks Thomas Putnam Thomas Conerney Mercy Lewis Faye Rose Mary Warren Tricia Robertson John Proctor Neal Flux Rebecca Nurse Vera Robinson Giles Corey Derek Goulding John Hale Colin Townsley Elizabeth Proctor Shirley Andrews Francis Nurse John Midlane Ezekiel Cheever Cliff Williams Judge Hathorne Brian Warner Governor Danforth Tony Donnelly Sarah Good Jean Midlane Marshall Herrick Oliver Conerney
Crew Stage Manager Marilynn Matthews Assistant Stage Managers Pearl Ayling, Eve Sutch, Toby Moore, Mark Phillimore, Ken Vale, Jill Leggat Set Designer Neal Flux Lighting John King, Peter Meehan Sound Bill Ayling
Powerful acting in The Crucible
The Edward Alderton Theatre again showed their talent in satisfying an audience In yet another technically demanding and difficult drama. In Arthur Miller's The Crucible, a deeply emotive play centering on the infamous Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, there were many outstanding performances.
Nearly all the 20-strong cast proved themselves equal to their roles despite the obvious problems with timing in a play where so many lines overlap.
Neal Flux, responsible for the direction and a familiar face to many Edward Alderton regulars, gave another fine performance in the leading role of John Proctor but occasionally there was too much spitting and hair-tearing in his confrontations with other characters.
This was in fact the only real fault of the play. Most of the confrontation scenes are highly charged and it is easy to fall into the trap of overplaying Proctor's anger, something that should perhaps be conveyed with more contemptuous sarcasm. Likewise, some of Reverend Parris' words (played by Steve Marshall) were lost for the same reason.
One scene in Act III, where the girls feigning bewitchment, had the audience shrinking back in their seats.
Particularly successful was Act II, with a well-drawn Goody Proctor, played with feeling by Shirley Andrews, whose pious coldness and Puritan faith contrast well with Proctor's lechery and moral indecision; and a strong portrayal of John Hale by Colin Townsley, who carefully mirrored the change from delivering minister to the disillusioned man urging the accused to admit crimes they did not commit, that his guilt for their deaths be relieved.
Other exceptional performances came from Tony Donnelly as the unyielding Governor Danforth, commanding respect whenever he appeared on stage, and from Jean Franks as Ann Putnam, whose clear voice and strong personality was the first thing to be noticed at the beginning of the play.
There was good acting from Tricia Robertson as Mary Warren, who made the most of a wheedling girl caught up in the accusing and who gave a sensitive breakdown and admission of pretence. In contrast, Jill Rafferty as the lead vixen Abigail Williams was slightly disappointing.
A word must be said for the stark set design by Neal Flux, who seems to involve himself in everything. The simple props conveyed well the Puritan setting and the clever use of candlelight added to the effect. John King and Peter Meehan are to be congratulated on their startling lighting effect at the end of the play where the stage back was bathed in red light for the last dawn. Marilynn Matthews was stage manager.
Bexley Times | 27 July 1978