In general, I believe that ‘The Crucible’ was a well-directed, well-casted and well- performed play, especially given the relatively short time in which it was prepared. It was very enjoyable to be a part of, however I have no personal experience of how entertaining to the audience it was. There were many good elements, but also a few weak points in it. Although I did not see Act 1 in any of the performances, as I was backstage, I saw it many times in the rehearsals anyway.
I felt that the overall characterisation was effective; the characters all seemed to portray their roles successfully. For example, Ed (Hale) came across as a sympathetic character, who’s desperation to save Proctor grows throughout acts 3 and 4. One example of this is the line ‘Excellency, it is enough he confess himself. Let him sign it, let him sign it.’ Ed’s hurried manner of speaking made him sound desperate as Hale is supposed to be in the play.
This defensive manner is consistent throughout acts 3 and 4, showing how Hale is determined to save Proctors life. This desperation is shown in greater intensity in the line ‘Woman plead with him! Woman, it is pride, it is vanity. Be his helper! – What profit him to bleed’shall the dust praise him’shall the worms declare his truth? Go to him, take his shame away!’ This is portrayed well, as Ed looks very desperate and pleading. Ed is just one example of the good characterisation, and in my opinion, the best. He really seemed to be in the play, not just acting it. There was generally a high standard of characterisation, Danforth (Aryan) being one of the top few. He seemed genuinely angry as he yelled some of his lines out.
One that really stood out for me was ‘I’ll have no more from you Mr. Parris.’ He seemed very angry, and irritated by Parris’s interruption. This was not simply a case of more volume, but was a good contrast in tones, which depicted Danforth’s fractious state very well. The third and final example of excellent characterisation is Abigail (Marianne). She represented Abigail’s threatening nature very well. Personally, I believe the best line to show this was ‘Let you beware, Mr. Danforth.
Think you to be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits? Beware of it…’ She seemed very threatening and angry, due to the sharp pronunciation and emphasis. In general, most of the actors seemed to portray their character’s reactions well, at events and words, not just when they had a certain part to portray in a line, although these three in particular stood out. For example, when certain words were said, there tended to be a reaction by everyone on stage, although these reactions were overdone at times, particularly towards the end.
The vocal elements of the play were generally of a high standard, with a general good sense of high energy. This was not entirely consistent, however, as there were some occasions when there was a lot of good speech, with feeling and loud enough for everyone in the audience to hear. There were, nevertheless, times when there was too little energy, and the actors and actresses were too quiet for the whole audience to hear. There were two occasions like this obvious to me, most probably because I was there at the time leading them out. They were both said when the actresses were being led offstage, which could be a reason for the lack of energy.
The first was when Elizabeth Proctor (Steph) said ‘Oh, God’ in response to Proctor (Sam) saying ‘Elizabeth, I have confessed it!’ She seemed almost to mutter it, and I believe this is because she was facing away from the audience, and it was a line showing a defeated feeling. In my opinion, she could have said it just as well louder, so that the audience could have heard it. The second is when Rebecca Nurse (Jess) says ‘I’ve had no breakfast’ after being thrown into Proctor. This is quiet partly because of Rebecca Nurse is supposed to be weak (but trying to hide it), and also because of it is an insignificant line, not said to the audience, so there is no real motivation to say it loudly.
The Friday performance was the best of the three when it came to energy, and the ‘Oh, God’ line was a bit louder, however words were muddled. Two lines that I knew went wrong were: when Aryan was supposed to say ‘Tear of pity’ he said ‘Pier of titty’. This, despite being only one line, was a very obvious mistake, and at the time Aryan was, understandably, quite upset. The other line was simply a wrong word, which didn’t change the meaning.
This was when Jess said ‘I’ve had no food’ instead of ‘I’ve had no breakfast’. This was very trivial, however, and didn’t interrupt the flow of the play. Another thing that went wrong was the girls’ mimicking, as ‘Abby, I’m here!’ was said twice, although this was not the fault of the girls copying, but Carita’s fault for saying it twice. Throughout the play, in all performances, there were small areas missed out, although the audience would not have picked these up. Personally, I believe that the cut off lines, i.e. when Elizabeth ‘I have no-‘, could have been improved. In this line particularly, the cut-off seemed too forced, as she did not seem as if she was going to say anything else afterwards.
Also, a few of the cut-off lines in other areas were forced, which stood out when the interrupter cut in late, but the original speaker did not continue the line, so they stopped as if interrupted, and were only interrupted a few seconds after they had cut off. In my opinion, these times really shattered the illusion of a real world, and were as a large buffer to the continuity to the play. Aside from the faults already mentioned, the vocal elements of the play were generally good, and the lines were all learnt; it wasn’t the knowledge of the lines that messed up, only the way they came out.