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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Theatre - The Crucible - Open Air Theatre, Regents Park

Star rating – 8/10

If you have never been to the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park then I thoroughly recommend it as a highly enjoyable summer dramatic experience. Ok so you need a nice dry evening and not the usual British summer downpours, but luckily for me the rain stayed away. And the open air atmosphere amongst the trees and as the night drew in, was made for the staging of this classic by Arthur Miller.

The story of the Salem witch trials, doubling as it does for the MaCarthyite witch hunts of Communists in 1950s America, is shocking and a salutary lesson in the dangers of giving false testimony. Timothy Sheader used the girls of Salem, who hysterically denounce so many of their fellow women as witches, as a pervasive and powerful silent presence on the outskirts of the stage at all times during the play, like a modern day Greek chorus.

Patrick O’Kane is physically and dramatically impressive as the repentant adulterer John Proctor. And he pays a very high price for his sin, as his powerful and moving performance culminates in a torrent of rage against the authorities who are so judging him and his wife. The traditional costumes and stripped down set let the performances speak for them selves. The terrifying judge in chief Danforth is played very convincingly and menacingly by Oliver Ford Davies.

This is a totally absorbing and shocking play, acted out to great effective in this perfect environment for its claustrophobic and whipped up hysteria. Well worth the slight evening chill to experience such a treasure.

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