There are quite a few similarities between the plots and characters of these plays. Both have quite dark, sinister endings; in ‘The Crucible’, characters like Goody Nurse and John Proctor are hanged, and in ‘Little Malcolm’ Ann Gedge is beaten up, and eventually Malcolm is abandoned by his co-‘revolutionaries’ when they see sense. A clear-cut similarity is the whole idea of the ‘trial’, where Malcolm is similar to Danforth in his role; he is quite a short-tempered character and is also quite a sinister character.
Wick is slightly similar to Judge Hathorne, but there are few links between the characters; whereas Judge Hathorne tries to be impartial and fair, Wick is trying to prosecute Nipple, and takes a more active role in the trial. Nipple can be clearly likened to Proctor, as he is falsely accused of something; Proctor for witchcraft, Nipple for ‘being in league with the Forces of World Eunarchy’.
The main difference is that Proctor protests his innocence, whereas Nipple assumes that it is a joke, rising above such things. Ingham is most like Mary Warren, in that he doesn’t really want to give evidence against Nipple, but is being threatened by Malcolm, whom he respects also; similarly, Mary didn’t want to join in with naming Proctor, but turned against him when Abigail and the other girls accused her of witchcraft, threatening her situation. Naturally, the characters are also very different, as the plays are set in completely different circumstances. One fundamental difference between the plays altogether, is that ‘The Crucible’ is a tragedy, whereas ‘Little Malcolm’ is predominantly a comedy, although towards the end it does become more dark and serious.
I am going to be playing the character of Irwin Ingham during the play. For the majority of the first scene, I will be painting a banner to represent the ‘Dynamic Erectionist Party’. For this reason, I will not show any response to the dialogue until addressed; I will show concentration, by keeping my face set and motionless, looking at the paper and painting. I will subtly react to loud exclamations, like during Nipple’s speech about sex, by looking round, but will make no major motions.
I will remain in a casual stance on the floor, as at this point there is no cause for concern. When addressed, I will leave a slight pause, to imply that I am concentrating on painting, and leave time to replay the phrase in my mind and think up a suitable answer. Also, for the pause before ‘interesting’, I will make it appear as if I am trying to think up a suitable, inoffensive word to describe it. Towards the end of the scene, prior to my exeunt, I engage in dialogue with Wick and Malcolm. On the line ‘- not ‘at I er – ‘, I will speak hurriedly, as I will be rushing to let him know that I am not considering going back. I will also hold my hands palm up to imply, as if saying, ‘no, not me’.
For the line ‘Oh – er – like, Mal.’, I will raise my voice at the end, raise my eyebrows slightly, and for the second caesura will leave a longer pause, to imply that I am asking him cautiously. In the line where I ask about the Jazz Club, I will add a slight stutter to imply nerves and a lack of confidence. On lines like ‘A mean unless you ‘ave some other -‘, I will use the same facial features and tone of voice as the ‘ – not ‘at I er -‘ line. For the ‘Aye, I know, Mal’ line, I will speak slowly, slightly stressing the ‘know’ to show a pleading tone, then speak quite quickly and with enthusiasm in the following part of the line, to quickly get my point across. I will say ‘Oh all right a’m off’ in a dejected tone, by lowing the pitch, drawing out the ‘all’ putting slight stress on the word ‘right’.
In the second scene, the trial, I will begin almost hugging my knees nervously, as if trying and failing to look relaxed, as I know I’m going to have to give false evidence. During the dialogue, I will react to things that the other characters say, looking around nervously, hunching my shoulders and keeping my head down. I will occasionally look from side to side, and keep my hands close to my chest. My eyes will also be quite wide, and my eyebrows slightly raised.
During the speech, I will keep the same nervous posture but use expansive hand gestures to articulate ideas, as I am not verbally eloquent, and am struggling to remember the names of lies. After the speech, I will react with shock at Malcolm’s outbursts by widening my eyes and raising my eyebrows. My lower jaw will be slightly loose, but not dropping very low like a caricature-style expression. I will be unmoving, with a ‘set face’ as directed in the script, until it fades out.
The themes of ‘The Crucible’ were of fear, suspicion and paranoia. A central point was the ‘naming of names’. It was written to be a realistic or naturalistic play; this means that it is designed to accurately mimic real life on the stage, rather than using symbolism. This is because of there are many props referred to in the text, and no ideas of symbolism or miming props are mentioned. In the script, there are mentions of actions such as ‘knocking on doors’ which are written in a way that implies that Arthur Miller wanted real wooden doors to be used on stage. Evidence such as this suggests that ideally for the playwright, this should be performed as a naturalistic play, and not as a stylistic play. As there are no references to any form of audience interaction, the ‘fourth wall’, the barrier between audience and actors, is clearly evident. This furthers the idea of naturalism, as it is meant to create a world separate from the audience.
The predominant theme of ‘Little Malcolm’ is of power and Malcolm’s craving for it. There is also a tenuous thematic link with ‘The Crucible’, the theme of suspicion; only in ‘Little Malcolm’, it is false suspicion, as Malcolm knows full well that Nipple is perfectly innocent. The play focuses, however, on the idea of power, which leads to scenes of both a dark and comic nature. The scene we are performing comes during the transition between comic and tragic, as this is the point where Malcolm really lets out his anger upon Nipple.
The contrast between the comic beginning, and the more sinister side suddenly bursting out from Malcolm, create an effect of shock, both for the audience and for the characters. The piece is semi-realistic, as we have many of the props, however it hinges on the stylistic, as things like he record player and heater won’t be used. Also, we have a stage block instead of a tea chest and other such replacements. Due to these limitations, it will be a semi-realistic performance, a mixture of stylistic and realistic. There is a ‘fourth wall’ in ‘Little Malcolm’, as there is no audience interaction.
In conclusion, these plays are both written differently. They are written for different reasons; ‘The Crucible’ to show the old ways and legislature as cruel, ‘Little Malcolm’ to show the darker side of human nature, particularly in the charismatic, and also the idea of ridiculous, unfeasible plans. The plots are similar in their trial sections, and some characters bear resemblance to others, however the main idea of the plays differ. The style of ‘The Crucible’ is realistic, whereas ‘Little Malcolm’ is stylistic, due to the physical limitations of the props and area.