I am stunned beyond my own imaginings after experiencing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, a 2014 production of The Old Vic Theatre (right) directed by the talented South African director Yael Farber–via my copy of it purchased through Digital Theatre. My reactions that I share below are my initial visceral responses to what I just witnessed, in viewing it Saturday night.
Insecurity, neglect, loneliness, longing, lust, adultery, guilt, self-loathing, bitterness, desire, envy, pride, fear, betrayal, deceit, hatred, lies, accusation, frenzy, scorn, persecution, perseverance, contempt, murder, sin, agony, conscience, honor, love, and forgiveness are all in evidence in The Crucible. But no mercy.
And I had made the Richard Armitage wallpaper Proctor quote at right, long before (Aug0614) I saw the filmed version of The Crucible Saturday as I write this–my only having seen snippets of the play in video trailers. But Proctor’s final rousing “Because it is my name” speech still moved me deeply–then and now–more so for hearing Mr. Armitage proclaim those words so movingly.
In a broad sense, I did interpret one of the play’s messages, as John Proctor wails, that “God is dead” to let such evil flourish. Or that, we are dead if we let evil flourish. Who are we, if we do not stand up for what is right–and to see right done? We are just as guilty if we do not try to see right done.
However in The Crucible, the true wickedness in Salem is not the devil’s work, it is the work of men and women, neighbors, citizens, communities, and of government. And it is evil. With the subject matter of this play–be it the 1672 Salem witch trials, the mid 1900’s House UnAmerican Activities witch hunt hearings promulgated by Senator Joseph McCarthy, or modern day anywhere in the world where people are persecuted.
Grati’s aside: And frankly, on a more personal level–of my being a loving and much loved wife of 25 years and counting–I partially blame Elizabeth Proctor for her husband’s demise as much as I partially blame John Proctor, due to his adultery and pride at not wanting to be known as a less than honorable man.
Elizabeth reconciling her husband John’s death because “He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!”(The Crucible, Penguin Classics, 1995, p. 134) is not what I deem to be the viewpoint of a loving wife. She was a woman made bitter by his adultery, and I sense that in her words. However, if your husband does wrong by you and you cannot live with it, you divorce him–you do not see him killed and think it is a justice.
So I found that particular plotline arc not realistic–unless you read a lot of pulp novels and watch the current tv shows that seem to convey that violence is the only answer to all problems. It should be noted that after the historical John Proctor’s death by hanging, the historical Elizabeth Proctor remarried and had several more children with her new husband. I don’t see her remarriage as her indifference to her husband John Proctor’s death, but rather as her need–as a woman of her time–to gain the protection that a man afforded her then.
John Proctor was movingly and heartbreakingly portrayed brilliantly by British actor Richard Armitage (image left). I wept for John’s disintegration as an honorable man as his life and everything he had built were shattered as he lost his wife and his honor–then found them again in choosing death over lying to save himself. Proctor loved fiercely. And a man with 14 children certainly has prodigious sexual appetites–as the actor Richard Armitage once asserted as part of his character motivation. His first kiss with Elizabeth showed the strain of their relationship. But John’s and Elizabeth’s last and final soul searing kisses conveyed that their love had at last come full circle and healed [(collage by Ekaterina, below, as shared by VioletDB, Thanks!)].
Below is a video (by Wolke Strahl) interview with Richard Armitage and what he thought about his character of John Proctor:
Elizabeth Proctor (see previous image above with Richard Armitage as Proctor) was stoically portrayed by Anna Madeley (left) as a cold indifferent wife, barren of love in her heart for her husband John Proctor–both before his adultery due to her own insecurities, and after his adultery. However, Elizabeth let the wrong done to her by him strangle her heart–and his–until she could only realize love for him when it was too late, when he was about to die, for Abigail’s lie. See my comments about Elizabeth’s unforgiving ways in my story plot review section above.
Abigail Williams was a girl who turned her love/lust [(Johan Persson image right)] for John Proctor into a quest for power and recognition–until she no longer wanted love, she only lusted for power. Making her theatrical debut, Samantha Colley (image, left) mesmerized with her chillingly fierce determination to see others brought low–and ultimately killed by her accusations. She was ably surrounded by her coterie of village girls–most notably the easily persuaded Mary Warren portrayed by Natalie Gavin.
Reverend Hale, church adjudicator turned penitent–hauntingly portrayed by Adrian Schiller (left, movieberry.com)–comes to Salem purporting to be a voice of reason, then falls prey to the madness as he makes prisoners out of people, that ultimately leads to their deaths. Hale’s eventual reversal and remorse when reason finally enters his mind is too late. And te deaths he caused will haunt him forever.
All of the ensemble cast gave outstanding performances. So, kudos to the rest of them.
Grati’s Final Thoughts about The Old Vic’s production of The Crucible, as filmed by Digital Theatre
And being an avid theatre goer, I enjoyed viewing this filmed version of The Crucible. I wish had could have also seen it in person, but the trip was too costly. So a huge thank you to everyone involved in getting this production filmed! From the very beginning to the very end, The Old Vic’s production of The Crucible was beautifully and masterfully performed and executed! So much so, that I wanted John Proctor to be judged innocent and live happily ever after with his wife Elizabeth. But as with true tragedies, they could no more escape their fate than could John have resisted his urges for Abigail. All was inevitable. Arthur Miller’s play was a true masterpiece. And Yael Farber’s direction of this stellar cast and production of The Crucible cannot be under praised. The look and feel and sound–the evocative music was fantastic!–and mood of the production were riveting! And as many posters proclaimed that this production–whether experienced in person or via film–was:
But hey, don’t take my word for it, here is a trailer for the production:
Standing ovations (below left, Angela S. tweet, thanks!), the five star reviews (below right), audience and fan praise alike have garnered much laudable attention for Richard Armitage and the cast and creatives of The Crucible. Well done everyone!
And on Sunday, April 12, 2015, The Olivier Awards will present their honors for excellence in theatrical performance in London. And like many of us, I will be rooting for Richard Armitage to win for Best Actor and for The Crucible to win for Best Revival, etc. Cheers! And, fingers crossed! Though sadly, Mr. Armitage has stated that his current filming commitments in Canada will prevent him from attending the ceremony in London. Whatever happens, Richard Armitage and The Crucible are winners already in my eyes!
And finally, below is a lovely wallpaper by the talented artist and fan Ann Boudreau to help us all celebrate Mr. Armitage’s nomination: