Review: The Crucible proves a bewitching production to start theatre’s new season

MESMERISING SHOW Vengeance and passion fuel The Crucible at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
MESMERISING SHOW Vengeance and passion fuel The Crucible at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
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The West Yorkshire Playhouse has begun its new season in quite some style.

Its first major production of the year is a mesmerising version of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, directed by the theatre’s artistic director James Brining.

The Salem Witch Trials is not the lightest of topics but don’t baulk at either the heavy subject matter or the three-and-a-half hours stage time - it is so utterly compelling it will have you completely absorbed and begging for more.

Miller’s parable of how the vengeance-fuelled lies of a teenager have the most horrifying consequences for the 17th century community of Salem, Massachusetts was written in the 1950s during the McCarthy era Communist ‘witch hunts’. However it’s still very much as relevant today as it was then.

Abigail Williams, stung after being rejected by her older, married lover John Proctor, embarks on a campaign of lies which sees the very lives of her neighbours put at risk.

Kate Phillips, in her stage debut, is fantastic as the cold, manipulative Abigail and is ably matched by Martin Marquez as Proctor, Susie Trayling as his wife Elizabeth and Daniel Poyser as the the Rev Hale, seemingly the only ‘outsider’ to see through the girl’s callous lies.

As a piece of writing it has lost none of its power over the years and James Brining’s production is quite simply a triumph.

l Until October 25.