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The Crucible
Published on Monday, 27 August 2012
4

4 stars

Greenside (venue website)
Theatre
20-25 Aug, 10:30am-1:00pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

The irony of seeing The Crucible in a church could not possibly be lost on anyone. Nevertheless, even on a rainy day, Greenside is a beautiful and spacious venue, which allows Close Up Theatre the room they need for their large-scale production.

It’s expansive in time as well as space; The Crucible is a two-and-a-half hour epic, and I wondered how I was going to handle something more then twice the length of a typical Fringe show, especially at ten-thirty on a Saturday morning. But I needn’t have feared. Close Up Theatre did an outstanding job in keeping my attention exactly where it should have been – away from the thought of my lunch and riveted to the drama unfolding on stage.

There’s not a lot of artistic licence taken with this production. It comes across as a pretty standard retelling, with its period costumes, conventional staging, and a minimal set. Sometimes though, the most traditional of retellings can be the most effective, and in this case it means the acting gets appropriate focus. I’m truly glad of that, because I’ve only seen a handful of shows this Fringe with such quality performances.

Yes, okay, the American accents could use more than a bit of work in some cases (note: it’s set in Massachusetts, not Dublin). But overall from such a young group, the acting is outstanding. John Proctor and Abigail are particularly captivating, 

There is something really special about seeing a full-length production, but in place it no doubt could have been cut down, as most plays usually can. There were a few scenes that dragged on a bit. Still, although Miller’s work often feels like it’s taking a ridiculous number of twists and turns, it does build an exciting sense of frustration and suspense that helps the twist at the end extremely powerful.

On a slightly different note, there is some clichéd and largely unnecessary loud music between scenes – those screeching violins that seem to always be accompanied by garish coloured lighting. It’s a gratuitous and largely redundant addition to a beautifully staged play; the job could have been done with some subtler and less B-Grade music.

Nitpicking aside, Close Up Theatre has done a spectacular job this Fringe. They might not be on Broadway, but they’ve done Arthur Miller justice with their production – made me love and despise the characters all over again. Productions like this just remind you that no matter how many times you read a text (for study, pleasure or otherwise), there’s nothing like watching it come to life before your eyes. There really was no better way to spend a rainy morning.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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