The Crucible, The Old Vic – Performance review

by Rachel Creaser
Star rating
****
A heartening piece of pure drama.

There's great physicalistation from the ensemble (Credit: Johan Persson)

There’s great physicalistation from the ensemble (Credit: Johan Persson)

Last night’s thunderstorm may have been forecast, but I have a feeling it may have been the doings in The Old Vic which spurred the storm to build to such intensity …

The design really sets the tone for this production: the space is awash with a dreary sepia tone and a constant smokiness in the air – there is no bright and lightness in the place. The Crucible is part of The Old Vic’s second in-the-round season – it fit the world of the play very well, and drew the audience further into the murkiness.

Directed by Yaël Farber, she hits us hard from the very beginning, and doesn’t let up throughout the three-hour production. With a story of Salem witch trials, false accusations, lies, revenge, power, God and the devil – how could it not be hard-hitting?

Richard Armitage’s portrayal of John Proctor is authoritative yet touching: he’s just as compelling to watch in quieter moments as when bellowing out in anger. Armitage has great chemistry with both of his leading ladies: Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, played by Anna Madeley, and the formidable Abigail Williams, played by Samantha Colley. Both women have great presence: Madeley has a gripping emotional intensity, while Colley forcefully commands the attention of the audience.

Armitage's turn as John Proctor is commanding to watch (Credit: Johan Persson)

Armitage’s turn as John Proctor is commanding to watch (Credit: Johan Persson)

The movement in the play is a real highlight. Marama Corlett (playing Betty Parris) kept me engrossed as she contorted herself during a fight with an internal spirit. The movement work from the other young girls in the ensemble was also engaging and bewitching.

What I found most impressive about the production was that I found myself involuntarily shaking my head in disbelief on several occasions; I was utterly frustrated with Judge Hathhorne and his cronies – showing that the power of Arthur Miller’s storytelling is yet to dampened by time. The play may have left me feeling slightly depressed at the unfairness of life, but the most important outcome of this production is that it left me feeling something.

For people looking to go and see some impressive theatre this summer, this production has a lot to offer, and is highly recommended.

The Crucible runs at The Old Vic until 13 September 2014. Visit www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2014/the-crucible to buy tickets and for more information.

Matthew Warchus to succeed Spacey at The Old Vic

The Old Vic appoints a new artistic director (Credit: Jim Linwood)

The Old Vic appoints a new artistic director (Credit: Jim Linwood)

The Old Vic has announced that Matthew Warchus will succeed Kevin Spacey when steps down as the theatre’s artistic director in autumn 2015.

Warchus is currently working as The Old Vic’s artistic associate. In 2008 he directed outgoing artistic director Spacey and Jeff Goldblum in Speed-the-Plow. He has worked on over 70 productions in London and Broadway including Matilda the Musical.

Nick Clarry, chairman of The Old Vic Theatre Trust said of Warchus’s appointment: ‘We are delighted to have appointed an artistic director with the talent and track record of Matthew Warchus. This is a key appointment for The Old Vic, building on the many achievements of Kevin Spacey since 2004.

‘We believe that the next few years will be a very exciting time. Our goals are to continue to develop our artistic programme under Matthew’s leadership, to continue with our outreach work, to establish an endowment fund, and then to redevelop our historic building after the bicentenary in 2018.’

Kevin Spacey said he ‘couldn’t be happier’ with Warchus’s appointment. ‘Matthew is a thoughtful, intuitive and highly creative director and he has rightly been applauded for his work, in particular the quality and diversity of his portfolio. I know he loves our theatre and I am delighted for our staff, our audiences and for our acting and production communities that he will be its next guardian.’

Matthew Warchus said: ‘I am excited and honoured to be following Kevin’s galvanising tenure at this wonderful building. He has re-established The Old Vic as a globally important theatre and I look forward to continuing to develop it as a hub of invigorating creativity.’

Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation donates to arts education projects

 

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation is donating £380,000 to arts education projects throughout the UK.

Recipients include Creative and Cultural Skills, who were granted £75,000 for their range of masterclasses in technical theatre training; The Old Vic, which received £10,000 for their Old Vic New Voices Programme; and The Wales Millenium Centre’s Creative Apprenticeship Scheme, which has been awarded a £45,000 to train students wanting to work in backstage theatre.

The biggest donation of £180,000 was given to The Royal Ballet School, who had their funding frozen by the department for education.

Madeleine Lloyd Webber, trustee of the foundation said that they were, ‘delighted to be able to support such a diverse range of arts education initiatives.

‘We feel it is hugely important to encourage the next generation of artistic talent. The UK is currently a global leader in the arts, and by investing in programmes to train young artists, we hope our country can continue to be a creative force.’

www.andrewlloydwebberfoundation.com

 

Internship fund launched by Arts Council

Arts Council England (ACE) has launched a new initiative to support unpaid internships in the arts sector. The Creative Employment Programme will see funding of up to £15million provide financial support to unemployed 16-25 year olds seeking work experience in the arts sector.

This news follows ACE’s discussions with arts organisations concerning their guidelines for hiring unpaid interns. The Old Vic and Unicorn Theatre both suspended their internship schemes following consultations with ACE.

ACE’s Creative Employment Programme outline claims that the money will help fund ‘6,500 new apprenticeships and paid internships across the arts and cultural sector.’ The fund will be paid out to organisations who apply to help subsidise the cost of recruiting interns. The programme is scheduled to start in early 2013, and will run until March 2015.

Executive director Andrea Stark described the scheme as a ‘fantastic and vital development for young people interested in working in arts and culture.’

Stark went on to say: ‘If young people cannot gain entry into the sector workforce we risk losing a generation of talent, which would potentially have an adverse impact on the art that is produced, distributed and attended by the wider population. This programme gives young people the opportunity to gain skills and experience that potential employers will value, removes the barrier of lack of paid work experience, and helps boost the start of their career in the sector’

For more information, visit www.artscouncil.org.uk/news/arts-council-news/creative-employment-programme-launch.

Old Vic helps to make theatre affordable to younger generations

The Old Vic has entered into a new partnership to continue its scheme to offer subsidised tickets to the under-25s.

Accountancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), has signed a year-long sponsorship deal with the Old Vic. The PwC club will provide 100 tickets at £12 for each performance this year. The scheme was initially launched in 2004 by Old Vic’s artistic director of eight years, Kevin Spacey.

Spacey spoke of his concerns for the future of theatre audiences: ‘As the generation that is going passes on, the question is who is going to replace them? If we don’t reach out to make theatre affordable to the young generation we will lose them all. It is so short-sighted not to think about your future audiences. In this climate we need more than ever for companies to step up and support initiatives that make theatre accessible, especially to young people. Exposure to the arts and culture is enormously valuable.’

The subsidised tickets for under-25s were first launched by the Old Vic with no corporate sponsor, with the theatre making a loss on the project to ensure better diversity among its audiences.  Spacey then secured Aditya Mittal, ranked the fifth richest man in 2010, to sponsor the subsidised tickets. Aditya Mittal tickets were available to the under-25s for just £12.

Chairmen of PwC, Ian Powell said that the new partnership would help to, ‘open up a whole new world to people, and we think the PwC under-25s club will help bring theatre to an even wider audience.’

The scheme begins with the opening of the Old Vic’s production of The Duchess of Malfi this weekend. For more information about the PwC club visit:  www.oldvictheatre.com/under-25