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St Bartholomew's School - The Crucible

5th to 7th December 2001.

This is from the NWN.

Power play

'The Crucible', at St. Bartholomew's School, form Wednesday, December 5 to Friday, December 7

'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller, is a play of great power, portraying intense emotions. It is a challenge for any adult group, and a brave choice for a school production. St Bart’s is fortunate in having a wealth of acting talent at its disposal, and, although the cast lacked the technique to raise the hairs on the back of the neck, they came close at times in an extremely creditable performance.

Outstanding was Tessa Bosworth as Elizabeth Proctor, who gave a beautifully controlled and modulated performance from her very first entrance to the moving last scene. Even her silences were eloquent. Here was an intelligent actress with maturity beyond her years.

The male members of the cast boasted a variety of strong individual speaking voices. Richard Hunter, as Governor Danforth exuded authority and had a commanding stage presence. Tom Sanford as John Procter had a more softly spoken firmness. He conveyed the inherent goodness of the character, but tended to throw lines away. Reverend Parris played by Justin Kilcullen-Nichols had a clear forceful tone, while David Kennedy as Reverend Hale played his unctuous character consistently well.

The bewitched girls, usually a spine-chilling chorus, were not entirely convincing when seemingly possessed by demons. Their leader, Abigail, played by Lucy Stevens was vengeful as the jilted lover. Certainly she was not someone to cross, manipulating the hysteria for her own purposes with devastating effect. Zoe Hunter, as Mary Warren, conveyed the different moods of her character well, trying to break free of Abigail’s influence, but cracking at a vital moment

Of the smaller parts, Catherine Lee as Tituba, the Caribbean servant, sustained her accent faultlessly, and Ieuan Morgan made a good job of acting five times his real age, as Giles Corey, a shrewd old man out of his depth with the ‘clever lawyers’.

While the playing in modern dress worked very well, the decision to suggest a timeless no man’s land by a set comprised of giant Mondrian style paintings was a mistake. It was distracting rather than adding to our understanding of the play or creating an atmosphere of menace.

On the whole though, this was an entertaining and enterprising school production of the highest standard. The Directors, Miss E. Macey and Miss C. Pocock are to be congratulated on their handling of the large cast.

Finally, I would have welcomed some announcement regarding mobile phones. At least three went off in the audience during the performance on Thursday evening. It does a disservice to those on stage who have put so much effort into creating an atmosphere, to have it broken in this way.