Reason for white hot anger: ‘The Crucible.’

IF EVER there were a play designed to produce white hot anger in an audience, it is Arthur Miller’s 1953 play, “The Crucible.”

L-R rear: Adam Salter, Paul Jackson, Elaine Noon, David Bennett, Duncan Driver, Front: Yvonne Webber, photo by Helen Drum

L-R rear: Adam Salter, Paul Jackson, Elaine Noon, David Bennett, Duncan Driver, Front: Yvonne Webber, photo by Helen Drum

Although ostensibly the story of the notorious Salem witch trials in Massachusetts during the late 17th century, it is widely acknowledged that Miller wrote the play during the period of public shaming and blacklisting of accused Communists under Senator Joe McCarthy that haunted Miller’s playwriting.

Miller was later questioned by the Representatives Committee on un-American activities in 1956, but unlike some of the characters in his plays, he refused to identify other people present at meetings he had attended and so was (honourably, we would now say) convicted of “contempt of Congress.”

Canberra director Jordan Best has pulled out all the stops in this play of many characters. Although many of them are tried and condemned in the darkly ludicrous ‘trials’ (funny if they weren’t based on real occurrences), the plot centres on the character of John Proctor, compromised by a teenage girl with whom he has had brief relations and who now accuses him of witchcraft.

Image L-R rear: Claire Bailey, Ellie Collett, Saffron Dudgeon, Sian Phillips, Alysandra Grant, Katelynne Larkin, Annie Scott. Front L-R: Zoe Priest, Jemima Phillips, Yanina Clifton, photo by Helen Drum

Image L-R rear: Claire Bailey, Ellie Collett, Saffron Dudgeon, Sian Phillips, Alysandra Grant, Katelynne Larkin, Annie Scott. Front L-R: Zoe Priest, Jemima Phillips, Yanina Clifton, photo by Helen DruAlthough many are tried and condemned in the darkly ludicrous trials (funny if they weren’t based on real occurrences), the plot centres on the character of John Proctor, compromised by a teenage girl with whom he has had brief relations and who now accuses him of witchcraft.

In a story where religious fanaticism is tainted with petty grievances, it’s hard to resist getting up in the auditorium and shouting “enough!”

This production of “The Crucible” by Best – the second for REP in 2015 – features some of Canberra’s top actors and music by her father, the noted film composer Peter Best.

“The Crucible” at Theatre 3, Acton, May 1-16, preview April 30 at 8pm, bookings to canberrarep.org.au or 6257 1950.

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