Pacts with the devil, puritan beliefs and an undercurrent of political paranoia, MM took a trip back in time to watch the Crucible at the Houldsworth.
Arthur Miller’s the Crucible dramatizes the disturbing events of the Salem Witch Trials where innocents were accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts in 1692.
The play, written in 1952, served as a damning political allegory of the equally disturbing period of McCarthyism where American citizens – including some Hollywood actors and actresses – were accused of being ‘reds under the beds’.
Known as the Second Red Scare, the authorities were so anxious and so paranoid at the rare possibility that the spectre of Communism could come to haunt the United States, they began making accusations of sabotage, spying, disloyalty and treason.
The Elite Talent School cast were unwittingly acted out a play that is just as politically relevant today as it was decades ago.
The Olympics have given the Coalition Government the opportunity to introduce what civil liberties have called a ‘snooper’s charter’.
The Communications Data Bill allows government agencies – Mi5, SiS, the Police and others – to access communications records without warrants or judicial oversight.
We now have our own modern version of the Second Red Scare, the Terrorist Scare.
But back to the play.
The company put on a solid performance and made creative use of the dungeon-like room where the play took place.
Its dreary atmosphere, along with a few well time light and audio interventions, sucked the audience in.
Liam Gurnshaw (John Proctor) was the stand-out performer, with Taran Knight (Reverend Parris) and Gabi MacPhearson (Abigail Williams) following close behind.
Big man Gurnshaw used his physical presence to great effect and sparingly used physical and vocal outbursts to fruitfully portray Proctor’s distress and highly-charged emotive state.
Knight, a young man, stepped up to Parris’ part well.
It was fully convincing that Knight had become the slithering snake Parris.
MacPhearson used her natural beauty and energetic acting abilities to triumphantly interpret Miller’s Abigail Williams.
Although MacPhearson was not truly believable as Proctor’s wannabe lover, when it came to the second, more deceitful act, MacPhearson stepped up to the plate.
However, there were a few hiccups in the play.
The cast, dressed in period garbs, sometimes switched from Massachusetts accents to more natural Mancunian tones.
The play would have been better executed if all cast members spoke in their ordinary dialect.
This regularly occurring problem distracted attention away from the story and the cast’s acting abilities.
Dictation, because of the unsuccessful accent gimmick, became sloppy and Giles Corey’s words (John Mulholland) sometimes slipped into the unfathomable.
Fake tan and noticeably dyed hair ruined the fantasy somewhat.
Abigail Williams (Gabi MacPhearson) seemed to be sporting some fake-bake and bottled blonde locks.
For all that, the Crucible at the Houldsworth is well worth a watch.
The production will be running four nights from May 9 to 12.
Book your tickets from www.thehouldsworth.com or call 0161 222 8285.