Last week saw the return of Arthur Millar’s ‘The Crucible’, to the West End. Seventy years after its first premiere, the topic matter still rings alarmingly true today.

For those of you who didn’t study the Four Act Saga, the narrative follows the town of Salem, Massachusetts amid a growing hysteria that the women are practising witchcraft to carry out the devil’s deeds. Fuelled by a chorus of teenage girls with various motives, court is called into session asking those accused to either confess or die.

Royal National Theatre London

The play itself is worth seeing just for the script. Uncomfortable themes surrounding persecution of women under the guise of ‘lawfulness’ provokes the audience to question their own morality. Whilst every character portrays great flaws, spanning from self-righteousness to attempted murder, this prompts the question what we define as ‘good’. As well as if ‘good’ has any gravitas on the courtroom floor.

Turner’s revival itself feels slightly rushed. More seasoned actors give a wonderful delivery; however, this acts as a double-edged sword against weaker count parts, highlighting erratic accents and overplayed jealousy. Gleeson’s John Proctor matures in the second half, yet Alcock’s Abigail reaches a ceiling far too early, leaving her little space to explore throughout.

Royal National Theatre London

It’s an interesting choice to utilise a sound bed to highlight key moments and tension (as well as a prologue to explain what the play itself is about) in the text. This comes off as rather belittling, having to be fed subtext, however I can understand the intent. Sound overall was used well, with the ensemble of girls providing eerie-choral notes through (think Robert Egger’s The VVitch).

Set design cannot be criticised: the use of light and depth of the stage drew the audience in to Salem themselves, creating the illusion that you too are trapped in the contained frenzy. Shadows complimented the ‘unseen, unspoken’ elements of the text, occasionally brought to life by haunting tableaus projected from the back of the stage. Turner’s much awaited ‘rain curtain’ has once again returned to entertain before and during the play, however it is unclear what purpose this serves.

Many have already verbalised that this production serves ‘style over substance’, which is hard to disagree with. Although with such strong source material, any fan or English student should be encouraged to attend.

3/5 stars