Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho, London W1D 6AR 0844 482 5130
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Previews from 7th June, opens 15th June 2023. Ends 2nd September 2023.
Audio described performances: 22nd July 2023 at 2pm, 7th August 2023 at 7pm
Captioned performances: 15th July 2023 at 2pm, 31st July 2023 at 7pm
Signed performance: 29th July 2023 at 2pm
Bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase "burning with injustice," as every school-monkey bored ridged by a rubbish teacher knows, this is the Arthur "I pulled Marilyn" Miller commentary on McCarthyism set during the Salem Witch Trials.
The hit 2022 National Theatre production transfers to the West End for a season.
From the National Theatre production. Some actors have now left the cast.
(seen at the afternoon performance on 2nd November 2022)
After the “World’s Worst English Teacher” (WWET) ruined this “O” level set-text for the monkey, it vowed it would rather pass another kidney stone than sit through it again on stage... Guess what it was doing rather than sitting through this play as booked two weeks ago... after lithotripsy, it sought treatment for irony poisoning.
Second time in the Olivier Theatre. The 1990 production it remembers was all blonde wood and direction to match, it wasn’t impressed. The cast were outstanding, but back then it never changed its opinion of the piece one iota.
This time around, the brilliant Erin Doherty leads the cast. Her Abigail is ever-present though her actual scenes are short. Able to play such a young woman with malevolent credibility confirms Doherty’s rise as one of the strongest theatrical talents on stage.
At the other end of the age scale, Eileen Walsh gives an Elizabeth Proctor of great depth, inner strength and conviction radiating in her final scenes.
As Deputy Governor Danforth, Matthew Marsh proves rancorous in seeking integrity, conveying both outer conviction and inner turmoil as evidence dribbles weight off the scales he is attempting to balance. Karl Jonson’s turn as litigant Giles Corey helpfully (and with a light touch of humour) removes further grains in a very fine characterisation.
Director Lyndsey Turner provides a pivotal interrogation scene of delicious tension, keeping the earlier court room at the back of the stage to remind us that justice is rarely observed. Caroline Shaw’s music is the perfect underscore ratcheting up the tension.
Es Devlin’s squaring off of the wide Olivier stage on both floor and ceiling creates a visual sandwich with febrile filling, water (or could it be tears?) washing away sin. Tim Lutkin uses shadow in lighting to good effect, only the placing of one lamp at the back of the stage a technically necessary but slightly distracting requirement.
Other notes are few. Fisayo Akinade’s Reverend John Hale lacked discipline for the monkey. It expected a fastidious sharpness, instead Akinade took a softer approach which did admittedly yield results in the final scenes where he realises the errors of assumption.
Likewise Brendan Cowell as John Proctor takes a character decision to play as a yokel, complete with rural voice and intonation. Too broad at the beginning, his later grasp of the wider situation seemed a little less credible unless the intention is to show a steeper learning curve than reading the play might suggest.
The monkey will always argue that Miller wrote far better plays than this – “A View From The Bridge” and “All My Sons” are vastly superior in its opinion. The McCarthy-era metaphors remain grating for it, so much signalling it may as well be in surtitles behind the action, and the tension dissipates quickly once the deceptions are laid out for examination. Perhaps, as a fellow audience member noted, there are also parallels with today's unending stream of social media-driven "moral panics" but the play still feels less of a discussion than an intellectual lecture.
Still and all, this is a fine production with a mostly excellent cast and honestly the first time the monkey has been able to understand why it is regarded by so many as a modern classic. And it has committed itself in writing to that confession.
The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.
Monday to Saturday at 7pm
Thursday and Saturday at 2pm and 7.30pm (first 2pm performance is on 17th June 2023)
Runs 2 hours 50 minutes approximately.
Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.