Miller’s classic is a tale of mass hysteria

Moody: Members of the Irving Stage Company ready to stage Arthur Miller's iconic play The Crucible at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.
 Faye Smith, Honor Balaam and Christian Jenner as Abigail Williams, Betty Parris and Tituba ANL-160229-130734009
Moody: Members of the Irving Stage Company ready to stage Arthur Miller's iconic play The Crucible at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds. Faye Smith, Honor Balaam and Christian Jenner as Abigail Williams, Betty Parris and Tituba ANL-160229-130734009

One of the greatest plays of modern times is being brought to the stage this Spring, with the Irving Stage Company’s amateur production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller from March 15 to 19 at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.

Arthur Miller’s classic parable of mass hysteria draws a chilling parallel between the Salem, Massachusetts witch-hunts of 1692 and the era of McCarthyism in 1950s America.

The story of a small community driven to madness by superstition, paranoia and malice is a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the power of false accusations.

Drawn from two terrifying chapters of human history, this is an allegory for all time.

Against a backdrop of religious superstition, charges of witchcraft are levelled at members of Salem society.

Are they genuinely motivated accusations or are they cynically geared towards settling old scores, gaining land and status?

When the devout Elizabeth Proctor is arrested, her husband John - a man struggling with his own guilt - embarks upon the most important journey of his life, towards redemption and self-sacrifice.

Nothing is at it seems in a society in which the law seems to exist to uphold nothing more than itself, religious ministers value materialism above spirituality and the innocence of children is a façade concealing dark passions.

In bringing The Crucible to the stage, Nicholas Bennett is making his directorial debut with the Irving.

He has moved across the footlights, having appeared in recent productions of A Chorus of Disapproval as Guy, Jesus Christ Superstar as Peter, and West Side Story as Riff.

Nicholas, deputy head at Finborough School, says, “In this play Miller creates one of the finest pieces of writing in the English language.

“His intense drama explores the best and worst of human nature, and could have been written to reflect the fears that beset us today.

“I am proud of what the talented cast has achieved, and feel excited and privileged to be sharing our work with audiences at the Theatre Royal.”

The production has a cast of 19 local performers, and includes Nic Metcalfe and Sian Couture as John and Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail Williams is played by 17 year-old A-Level student Faye Smith, with Jeremy Warbrick as Reverend Hale and Anthony Sully as Judge Danforth.

Tickets range from £10-£20 and are available from the box office on 01284 769505 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.

There is a special rate of £5 per ticket for school and college groups on Thursday, March 17, please contact the theatre by phone for these, they are not available online.

This production is suitable for ages 12-plus.