Thursday, 1 June 2017

Review: Charlie Condou in The Crucible

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog May 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

A guest blog post from Coronation Street Blog reader Glenn Meads who last night went to the theatre to see Corrie's Charlie Condou (Marcus Dent) in The Crucible.
"A host of current and former Corrie stars came out in force yesterday night, to support Charlie Condou, as he trod the boards in a new touring production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

Kate Ford, Dolly-Rose Campbell and Sair Khan, were just some of the cast members who had a night away from the cobbles, to watch this stirring, classic play.

The first thing to note, is how powerful this piece is. In a world of alternative facts, Trump, Brexit, the recent French Elections, and our upcoming General Election, The Crucible could not be more timely.

The play focuses on the Salem Witch trials, but Miller cleverly uses this backdrop as an allegory for McCarthyism, as he was questioned and convicted in 1956.

You may know the film version, which starred Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder, but The Crucible belongs on stage, as it is only here that the claustrophobia of a small town turning in on itself can be truly examined and experienced, by the audience.

John Proctor (Eoin Slattery) and his wife Elizabeth (Victoria Yeates) are drawn into this moral panic, and their lives are turned upside down, when young Abigail Williams (Lucy Keirl) makes allegations, involving the devil.

To truly capture the hysteria that envelopes this small tight knit community, less is more effective. Here, the performances sometimes are a tad too ‘shouty’ at times. And, audience members sometimes giggle where thy should be aghast. And the ‘haunting’ music feels more appropriate in a film like The Omen, as it tells you what to think.

But, the two leads are completely convincing and Lucy Keirl is excellent as the young manipulator. As for Charlie, he completely immerses himself in the role of Reverend Hale. His diction is spot on throughout, and he shows versatility, within a complex role of a man torn between his faith and the will of the people. From the minute, he steps onto the stage, the play goes into fourth gear, as he has excellent stage presence.

As much as I love Coronation Street, it is always great to see what a cast member did previously, and catch up with where they are now, following their exit. Charlie is equally at home on stage and in film. And here, he proves that and has the chance to show fans of the show, a play they might not have seen before.

And, apart from a few misjudged moments, this production of The Crucible is gripping and as relevant today, as it always was.

Glenn Meads

The Crucible is at the Manchester Opera House until 13 May, and continues touring the UK until 17 June as follows:

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

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