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Review - BAT's The Crucible: set to cast a spell on audiences

April 17, 2018

The Crucible

By Arthur Miller

Directed by Brenda White

Brisbane Arts Theatre

Petrie Terrace

Brisbane

 

Season:  7 April – 19 May 2018 Bookings: www.artstheatre.com.au or (07) 3369 2344

 

Flying into Brisbane Arts Theatre, The Crucible is set to cast a spell on audiences near and far.

Following the storyline of witchcraft in a religious village, the play explores the impacts of hearsay and pretence.  When lies spread like wildfire, the town and good faith of its citizens are completely destroyed. What’s left is the assumption of what is real and what is not; what is false and what is true.

            The Crucible is a heart-wrenching tale that dances with a number of themes relatable to modern society. A favourite among many, Arthur Miller’s text is commonly studied in schools.  The story contains enough light and shade for any actor to have an emotional field day and any theatre group to have fun bringing to life.

For a production with minimal scene changes and a significant amount of dialogue, The Crucible commands attention. It’s a hit or miss type of production, because if it’s not handled correctly it can become drawn out and cumbersome.

Brisbane Arts Theatre, under the direction of Brenda White, has ensured action is engaging and audiences don’t lose focus among the heavy content. The combination of great design, good direction, and talented actors is enough to occupy audiences and keep them entertained through the entirety of the show.

Brenda has artfully used entrances and simplistic scene changes to navigate the story around the stage and through the plays community; easily highlighting the events taking place during the Salem witch trials. Costumes, by Frances Foo, are of the era, and sound (Ruby Foster) and lighting (David Willis) come together to heighten the tension, when needed.  It really is great attention to detail from the production team involved.

The set features two opposing village facades made out of wood.  They meet in the middle to frame silhouetted tree branches, where sinister points of the play take place. As the lighting and back wash changes, the story colourfully plays out; however, it’s bothered by the eerie broken forest that remains by the back wall. It’s a beautiful, intriguing and a stunning artistic display, designed by George Goldsmid.

Stand out performance of the evening came from Claire Argente, who completely embodied the manipulative Abigail Williams.  In one particular scene, the girls of the town imagine the Devil before them, with Claire’s character leading the troupe through a range of emotions. As the main instigator, Claire is committed, bewitching and delivers a spine-tingling portrayal in her calculating role.

Other stellar performances came from Reagan Warner as the tainted John Proctor; Elizabeth Best as the burden-holding Elizabeth Proctor; Jonathon Devitt as the good Giles Corey and Marselan Wignall as the sacred Reverend John Hale.

While there are actors who were distinctly memorable, it is worth mentioning that it takes an ensemble to really pull off an entertaining production, so credit should be given to the entire cast and creatives involved. 

Brisbane Arts Theatre has done The Crucible justice and for fans of the story, it’d be a sin to miss this production.

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