Review Round Up: The Crucible, National Theatre

Discover what critics have made of Lyndsey Turner’s production of Arthur Miller’s play, officially open at the National Theatre’s Olivier space.

Credit: Johan Persson

The Guardian: *** “Beautifully staged, it is an almost entirely faithful interpretation and feels safe for it. Where its world might have borne more resonances to the group-think and scapegoating that recent populist narratives have peddled, its faithfulness pushes its themes back to the past, to Puritan fundamentalism, a time of theocracy and the search for a New Jerusalem, without bringing anything substantially new or imaginative to the stage – other than its aesthetics.”

The Times: *** “Lightning doesn’t quite strike twice. Last year, on this same stage, the director Lyndsey Turner gave us a miraculously reworked version of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, framing the “play for voices” with poignant, newly crafted scenes set in a care home. We’re back in another claustrophobic closed community in Turner’s revival of Arthur Miller’s ever popular portrayal of a witch-hunt in 17th-century Massachusetts. Yet for all its moments of poetry, this is an evening that only intermittently delivers hushed terror.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “This timely revival shows it not only as a play deserving of its status as a staple of the curriculum, but as an urgent warning of the outcome when, in Proctor’s prescient words, “crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom”.”

The Daily Mail: ***** “But the really great thing about Lyndsey Turner’s gruelling new production of Miller’s 20th-century classic is that it digs deep into the play’s questions of human longing for justice — and once more shows how helpless we become when that justice is corrupted.”

There Ought to be Clowns: “In a large cast, there is much, much work that elevates this Crucible. Karl Johnson’s tragicomic Giles Corey, a wry figure whose decency lasts til the end; Rachelle Diedericks’ would-be whistleblower Mary Warren, unable to stay the course; Tilly Tremayne’s impassive Rebecca Nurse; Eileen Walsh’s committed excellence as Elizabeth Proctor. This final two offer some gorgeously nuanced reactive acting in the final scene (as does Doherty throughout, she really is stunning), meaning that the personal hits just as hard, if not harder, as the political. The eeriness of Caroline Shaw’s compositions sung by the girls, the drone of Paul Arditti and Tingying Dong’s sound design, the only thing that will shudder you here is just how damn good it is – highly recommended.”

Credit: Johan Persson

Evening Standard: **** “But the play remains a bona fide classic; always the same, always new. And Turner’s production rolls over us with the remorseless, implacable intent of a bulldozer.”

Time Out: **** “Ultimately, Turner’s take on ‘The Crucible’ is full of good ideas and atmospheric flourishes – the rain, the accents, the way the chorus of girls appear behind scrims, singing hauntingly – without coalescing into an entirely coherent reinvention. Which is fine. Miller’s play is both a tremendous piece of writing and built like brick shithouse. It doesn’t need to be interpreted or taken in hand like, say, ‘Hamlet’. Everyone already knows what the subtext is, it doesn’t need a hot-take reading.”

London Unattached: “Lindsay Tuner’s compelling direction creates a stirring and engrossing three hours. A haunting choral soundtrack of female voices (composed by Caroline Shaw) represents the fellowship of the girls and the power of their voices. The dramatic set is inspirational, created by Artist and designer Es Devlin (whose recent work includes the large-scale choral sculpture ‘Come Home Again’ at the Tate Modern).”

The Arts Desk: **** “under Lyndsey Turner’s aesthetically vigorous direction on the National Theatre’s Olivier stage, the play’s infected air becomes a breeding ground for visually arresting tableaux possessed of rampant emotional intensity. Painterly but unfussy, Turner’s staging fixes our gaze on those electric moments in Miller’s allegorical tale where unreason and blind faith lock horns with integrity.”

Broadway World: **** “Turner explores exclusion and reputation, judgement and gossip with chaotic ease. It’s an impressive company in both size and craft, with 27 actors in total. Abigail and her followers seize up into fits, starting at nothing, spewing hatred and dooming innocent individuals.”

The Reviews Hub: **** 1/2 “Turner’s vision of The Crucible is bleak but hugely rewarding, digging deep into the violent paranoia and creating a convincing blood lust dressed up as justice that grips Salem. And while Miller shows little of the townsfolk and their trials, this production puts their suffering centre stage.”

The Crucible will continue to play at the National Theatre until the 5th November.

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