I will put my hand up and say, I had never seen this play, read it or even really knew what it was about. Naturally I had heard of it and wondered more about the way you pronounced it. So my first exposure was earlier this month as part of Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2013 season, with the big draw card being David Wenham playing the lead, John Proctor.
Small American town called Salem, in the 17th Century, full of religious people pointing at other religious people accusing them of very non-religious things, witchcraft. I did understand the play. Though I think I would have if I had simply read the play. Which is what the actor’s sounded like they were doing. Australian Theatre actors, from what I have seen, are quite hit and miss with American accents. Director Sam Strong decided to just let the actors perform in their native Australian tongue. In most cases I would agree with this, as a bad accent is just distracting. Though the fact is, they needed to BE those 17th Century small town Americans. It is not set in small town Australia. Australia as we know it did not exist. The delivery of so many of the lines was actually distracting because of the local accent, and the emotion behind it fell flat.
I am a visual guy, I like a good set and good costumes. I get sad when I discover a set that is really dull or impractical. MTC’s production of “The Crucible” set and for the most part, costumes, scored a big tick from me. Both did a great job at supporting the story, not taking away from it. Traditional and simple. Maybe just not David Wenham’s wig. Some inspiration from a previous film production he was in maybe? (Lord of the Rings, if you are not aware.)
The actor’s tried. They did. They had a well known and well written script, and the pressure to perform it well. I just feel that they were let down by the direction. As a first timer of the story, as mentioned, I understood the storyline. Though I did not feel the emotion of the characters or the “sitting on the edge of the seat” suspense I was warned about.
When the lights came on, I clapped. But I had been wanting something else, to justify the namesake of this play. At least I stayed past interval for this MTC production.
“The Crucible” runs until 3rd August at the Sumner Theatre, Melbourne. Tickets here.