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The Crucible at The Old Vic

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Arthur Miller believed his play would document one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history.

Based on the 1692 Salem witch trials, where widespread paranoia and suspicion seeped through small villages and towns in Massachusetts, it proved to be a perfect allegory for post WWII America.

There hysteria was building as the "Red Scare", led by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House of Un-American Activities, began a crusade against what they perceived as the rising tide of Communism in the country.

Hollywood was seen as the apex of this subversion; lives and careers destroyed as mania became manifest - even an 8 - year old child actor was deemed "politically unreliable."

It was within this climate of distrust; where friends denounced one another to keep their jobs and an all pervading false righteousness acted as sole moral arbiter, that Miller found to mirror Salem's witch hunt 250 years previously.

And it's Yal Farber's brilliant direction that has fully captured those fearful days to London's Old Vic, until the 13th September.

Richard Armitage plays the lead role of John Proctor and his portrayal of a man trying to weave his way through the town's lies and treachery, his own included, will leave audiences astounded.

As the tension swells and denunciations are proclaimed - often to gain land or settle long held grievances - it's a worthy lesson how quickly fear can spread and dismantle all in its path.

Special praise must go to Samantha Colley who, in her professional stage debut, sets heights that we can only hope she can reach for years to come.

Playing the instigator, Abigail Williams, Colley expertly tramples the tightrope between teenage girl and wanton destroyer.

Mentions must also go to Jack Ellis, Adrian Schiller and Anna Madeley, who all combine to add to the play's gravity.

It's a team effort - as was Salem.
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When: Sat 21 June Sat 13 Sept
Where: The Old VIc
Cost: 10, 16, 21, 30, 45, 55
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