Soulpepper enters our psyche and observes our moral instinct with its production of Arthur Miller’s classic, The Crucible.
After a successful run of the show in 2012, Soulpepper remounts this timely classic by taking our hand and guiding us through the dark space of Salem. Directed by Albert Schultz, this remount most definitely held itself up throughout its 160 minute run time.
The show begins even before the actors come out on stage, as sound effects are heard throughout the theatre, turning the room into an eerie soundscape of uneasy spirits. Darkness fills the room, a sentiment which is echoed in the lighting scheme of the performance. Lighting Designer Steven Hawkins designed the lighting to make it seem as though the stage is lit by candle light. During the first half of the show, once the stage was slightly more lit, the illusion of candlelight remained, except for the light shining off of stage left on the bed, almost resembling a Carravaggio painting.
In addition to the darkness, what also struck me were the transitions throughout the show between settings. The set changes were performed by the townspeople, moving set pieces around in the dark, while gently singing church hymns. The hymns worked particularly well in the dark, helping retain the uneasy atmosphere that the Salem soundscape provided.
Although much of the eeriness that is Salem held the show’s atmosphere together, it would not be doing the production justice to skim past the stellar performances put on by a cast of extremely versatile performers. To begin with, John and Elizabeth Proctor (Stuart Hughes and Laura Condlln) created a tension on stage that cut through the air like a razor. The undeniable chemistry, presented by the actors, left for an incredible climax towards the end.
In addition to the Proctors, the character of Abigail Williams (Hailey Gillis) proved to be one of the performances of the night, bridging between evil and hopeless with her constant change of inner character to go along with each lie she tells.
All in all, Soulpepper’s decision to remount Miller’s classic play proved to be a worthwhile venture and an honest portrayal of human ignorance, keeping Arthur Miller smiling in the grave yet again.
The Crucible runs at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until September 20th. For tickets and more information, visit www.soulpepper.ca.
photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann