Eastern Daily Press - 23rd October 2009
Credited with being one of Arthur Miller's most difficult plays to produce convincingly, "The Crucible" demands as much from the audience as from the players. We are asked to immerse ourselves in the small, tense, Puritan town of Salem in Massachusetts, 1692, a town torn apart by fear caused by allegations of witchcraft. If we don't, we are in grave danger of laughing. For as we must believe in the devil and learn how many innocent folk are sent to the gallows, the players must be credible, particularly in the demonic possession scene which could go horribly wrong.
It is to her credit that director Hazel Martin gets the actors to hold that fine line taut - indeed, the rope tightens inexorably. This is also a story of adultery, vengeance and love and needs a powerful protagonist to play farmer John Proctor, who, with his wife, Elizabeth, are at the heart of this dark production.
As Proctor, Martin Rodwell manages to grow in stature. His is a dominant role and Jennifer Soddy, as Elizabeth, does superbly well to hold together the couple's relationship as the madness around them fans the flames of hysteria. The third person in this ménage is the wicked Abigail Williams, played by Rebecca Faulkner. Her role is pivotal as it can be interpreted in several conflicting ways. Faulkner, however, chose to play her as a sinister harlot and gave a chilling performance.