I was at opening night of The Crucible and encourage anyone who has questions about the show to come at me with them - since, from the tag, it looks like a lot of people want to hear about something more than the shirtless scene. Also, re: the shirtless scene, it doesn’t last that long and has probably been somewhat over-hyped.
I thought Richard Armitage was well cast as John Proctor, especially considering the production’s decision to go with northern accents across the board. (Funny story: I heard someone on the way out of the theatre commenting that they didn’t think Richard had done a good job with the accent - so I guess it’s fair to say that some people just want to be critical.)
The show was long, starting a little after 7:30pm and ending a little before 11:30pm, including time for the interval. Having read the play recently, I can’t think of anything they actually cut. (Addendum: They didn’t include act 2, scene 2 but that’s not unusual as it doesn’t even appear in all versions of the text.) The scenes are lengthy, as they are in the play, and there were few transistions which added to the tense atmosphere created by the unfolding of the events. During the few transistions that there were, the lights were dimmed and the actors reset the stage, removing the various props and replacing them with ones fitting the upcoming scenes. The stage was set, at opening, with chairs laid at jaunty angles which the full cast came in and carried off stage. There were several bravely prolonged minutes of stage resetting and worldless action at the commencement of the play and Sarah Niles (Tituba) gave an electrifying physical performance before speaking the inevitable first words of the play text and beginning the story.
The physical acting in the play generally was very strong and there were some striking tableaus without it feeling over-done. (Both of these points especially apply to the girls who had real presence and transformed eerily from their initial appearances in act 1 to their latter re-entry en mass in act 3.) The staging in the round worked well, not only because it forced the audience to look upon one another as the court in the play’s obscene miscarriages of justice but, also with the staging used. Of course, at all points, each actor would have their back to a portion of the audience and there were some scenes where I found myself gazing at the back of an actor’s head for a good stretch of time but the blocking seemed well-designed to prevent any section of the audience from being particularly hard done-by. (Time will tell if I feel the same way when I’m sat in a different section of the audience when I return to see the play again in late July.)
There’s a lot more I could say about the production and (as I’m sure this is what a lot of y’all want to know) about the performances and I am happy to spill but, as of right now, it’s almost 1am and I should probably at least think about sleeping.