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REVIEW | The Crucible - Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

AD | Tickets were gifted in exchange of an honest review

TW/CW - Flashing lights, Haze and loud sound effects, Adult themes and mild sexual references, scenes showing pregnancy, a dead animal and slavery. Reference to death and child loss. You do not see this on stage, but it is heavily implied throughout the play. There are moments of extreme shock and tension and scenes which some audiences may find disturbing.


A classic play, cleverly staged that gets a hold of you from start to finish...

Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

Arthur Miller's The Crucible has had many staged productions, and is probably known to many, as it is a popular text to study during your education, but this March Sheffield Theatres are staging the play in The Crucible Theatre, with the book by Arthur Miller and Directed by Anthony Lau

The Crucible follows the plot of young girls who are accused of partaking in witchcraft, and dancing and chanting in the woods. All of them face the fear and threat of execution and they soon draw others into nothing more than secrets, lies and manipulation. The Crucible takes the themes and makes references to mild sexual references, dead animals, slavery and also child loss. 

The Crucible runs for 3 hours including an interval. Like always, my reviews are 100% honest and I will always justify my ratings, thoughts and feelings, always giving constructive feedback and my opinions are my own. 

Written by Arthur Miller, Miller’s writing is deeply layered with so much complexity in its dialogue and is intriguing from the start. Miller structures the play into four acts, which yes seems long, but actually helps you as you think of them as only four longer scenes, which to me it’s easy to understand. Miller writes an easy simple way of understanding the story as in the first act it follows the discovery and the days after, then in the second act it follows the trials and executions. In the beginning there is a lot to think about regarding the setting, time and characters, but this is easily swept up and made understandable quickly enough to show you where the story is taking you. The first act has tension throughout with the charging of the accused characters, which gets you gripped in their story and having you thinking throughout the fifteen minute interval about what will happen next. The second act reveals your thoughts of what you could have been thinking. The show is quick but also steadily paced which at moments you don’t get time to properly take all in which to me it works as I think a show that involves themes of good vs evil and judgement you need those moments of wondering. Overall Miller’s writing is quite thrilling, and is engaging throughout.  

Anthony Lau directs the production, Lau’s directional take on the play gives you some very strong likeable moments. Lau adds microphones and stands which add importance to the text and what the character was saying, in fact actually supported my understanding of the play and emphasised the shock and uncomfortableness this adds not just a modern element to the production but a sound element too as at points it gets quite intense which caused a few gasps from people around me. Lau placing Abigail Williams (played by Rose Shalloo) on stage during the majority of the show was brilliant. To me this adds an extra level of tone and somewhat an aspect of control from the character of Abigail and also maybe to some this adds uneasiness, which to me watching Shalloo all the time movement was made, added to the scene. Lau also adds elements of breaking the fourth wall into the show which I feel makes the show easier to be understood as I think that it draws you into the story more and it felt that you could somehow gather your thoughts from previous scenes/acts. Lau handles the play really well with creating different dynamics in the direction, creating and adding a sense of thrill and shock to the dialogue and like I said the production is cleverly staged and feels not so overly complex but feels notable and brave at the same time. 

Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

The cast does a great job throughout the whole duration of the show even if it is small or the main parts, all help create this complex but thrilling story. 

Rose Shalloo plays Abigail Williams, Shalloo brings a powerful touch to the role of Abigail, presenting you with this convincing fear of the character. You could sense this idea of cruelness of the character being the lead and drawing people into the world. Shalloo’s presence on stage is strong and feels very real and has the right amount, which you can feel in the character throughout, with the characterisation having brilliant attention to detail through the voice and movement around the stage. Shalloo accomplishes a truly keen performance throughout. 

Millicent Wong, performed the role of Mary Warren, Wong’s skills of playing on the slow process of being taken in by the girls was brilliant, and you see that obvious change within the character, but not so obvious that it felt rushed. Wong performs very strongly and expresses this element of fear really well. Wong takes the dialogue and delivers it really well with lots of different emotions which emphasise and have moments of impact and importance. Wong's performance as Mary Warren is convincing and determined. 

Simon Manyonda plays John Proctor, Manyonda showed really good strengths in the character. With Manyonda pushing persuasion for Proctor's wife, (played by Anoushka Lucas) and near to the end on where in the prison Manyonda shows two sides of the character excellently. The two sides are equally well played, Manyonda's performance is enjoyable from start to finish.

Designed by Georgia Lowe, Lowe’s design is definitely not over the top or extravagant with just a tiered roster with red seats. Lowe’s design makes you at ease when listening to the dialogue. Jess Bernberg creates a natural but also striking lighting design, as we weren't overloaded with so many effects and design elements, Bernberg idea of using the main auditorium house lights in moments that helped, and to me and emphasised the book. Bernberg’s lighting design is a good example of simple but effective.

Sheffield Theatres production of The Crucible is deep, and will have you impressed and thrilled from the direction to the performances to the lighting design. This production in particular shows that less is more. If you're studying this at the moment, you need to go and see it. Sheffield Theatres creates another surprising production and a very good night at the theatre.

The Crucible plays at the Crucible Theatre until 30 March.


Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

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