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  • Writer's pictureLiam Xavier

The Crucible by National Theatre - A Disarmingly Interactive Experience

There is no debate when it comes to the quality of acting, the sound and lighting design, the set dress or the direction of The Crucible but what is brilliant is its current relevance. Read any review and rarely does anyone disagree that it is an excellent revival but it is in it's modern application of relevance that we find the most interesting conversation starter. Ask of the show's contents and someone of my political leaning may describe the show as particularly relevant to the continual relentless persecution of women's rights and, in general, the lack of empathy shown by many of the Right of politics toward progressive identity ideals.

However, ask someone on the right of politics and they may decry that it is actually about the hyperbole of cancel culture or the concept of innocent until proven guilty in SA cases. The interesting point of my own Interpretation of the play and its current revival is somewhere that sits and finds validation in both perspectives (even, strangely, when i may disagree with the core of one). Rare for me to ever defend a belief held by anyone less than centre left but this is kind of the point.Sat in the dress circle, I noticed that - different to some plays - there was much more of a varied demographic audience occupying the Gielgud.

In this case, a play like The Crucible which - if you ask me (and pardon the irony of this take being an individuals Interpretation) - is an interactive experience led by melodramatically tinged humour and a layered presentation of internal conflict amidst the fear of a societal (and literal) death. In this position, as an audience of different lives and experiences acting a performance in itself, we are both experiencing what happens when empathy, education, and information are tainted or entirely revoked from access. It occurs and, in the strength of the acting, in the intelligence of design, and the tangible tension, we realise that everyone is under the microscope of investigation and everyone is afraid of everyone else. That entertainment is introspective education and that without empathy, we lack information and without information, we lack truth. And that this is a fact too often forgotten by all sides of philosophical and political positioning. In short, The Crucible challenges not only our belief in a better world or others skepticism of a changing landscape of identities, but it also places people of opposing views in the same room and makes them watch a brilliant performance where everyone of any view not only enjoys it but also leaves the performance looking like this:

To which we are left with the disarming and baffling realisation that none of us are too dissimilar from the other. And in such an experience, empathy peaks its head back above the parapet and asks for peace.


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