The Crucible

See the National Theatre’s scorching revival of The Crucible play in the West End

A witch hunt begins in Salem as the National Theatre’s acclaimed revival of The Crucible transfers to the West End for a strictly limited season. Arthur Miller’s fascinating and haunting tale of power and abuse has kept audiences on the edge of their seats for decades, and this bold new production is a must-see at the Gielgud Theatre.

Miller’s celebrated classic play is a scorching, claustrophobic story that focuses on a small community whipped up into a frenzy of suspicion and fear. A group of girls, raised to be seen and not heard, realise their voices hold more power than they ever imagined. Led by ringleader Abigail, their accusations spread fear throughout the Puritan community of Salem. Soon, private feuds spill into the public sphere and no one knows what to believe. The truth is on trial, and the consequences are terrifying.

Arthur Miller is one of the most prolific American playwrights of the 20th century and remains incredibly popular in the UK. His works, including A View From the Bridge, Broken Glass and Death of a Salesman explore themes of identity, the American Dream and complex family relationships. 

The Crucible play is inspired by the real Salem witch trials that took place in 1692 and 1693, and Miller wrote it during the height of US McCarthyism, when left-wing individuals were accused of spreading Communist and Soviet influence throughout the United States. It premiered at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway 1953 to fantastic reviews, and it later won a Tony Away for Best Play. To this day it remains one of the most compelling and fascinating accounts of a community on the verge of breakdown ever written. 

Over the last 70 years, The Crucible has been revised, reimagined and reinterpreted on stage in countless forms, and even adapted for film and television. Notable adaptations include the 1996 film starring Paul Scofield, Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Rider, with a screenplay by Miller himself. More recently, it was revived in London at the Old Vic Theatre, with Richard Armitage starring as John Proctor.

This year, the National Theatre’s revival of The Crucible play transfers to the West End after an acclaimed premiere at the Olivier Theatre. It is directed by Olivier Award winner Lyndsey Turner. Her other credits include Chimerica, Top Girls, and Girls and Boys

The 5-star, “magnificent restaging” (The Telegraph) features set design by Es Devlin (The Lehman Trilogy), lighting by Tim Lutkin (Back to the Future, Life of Pi), costumes by Catherine Fay, compositions by Caroline Shaw, and music direction by Osnat Schmool. The production’s creative team was praised by critics for presenting a “stark and stunning” (Financial Times) revival that had audiences gripped through every tense moment. 

The West End cast of The Crucible play is led by Milly Alcock as Abigail. This is Alcock’s West End debut; she is best known for her breakout performance as  Rhaenyra Targaryen in HBO’s House of the Dragon. Other casting includes Brian Gleeson (A Whistle in the Dark) as John Proctor, Ian Charleson Award winner Fisayo Akinade (National Theatre: Romeo and Juliet; Donmar Warehouse: Saint Joan; The Vote) as Reverand John Hale, Zoë Aldrich (Antigone; Her Naked Skin) as Ann Putman/Sarah Good, Stephanie Beattie as Martha Corey, and Caitlin Fitzgerald as Elizabeth Proctor. 

Miller’s stark and brutal masterpiece is unerringly powerful, and never more so than in Turner’s visceral production. It runs at the Gielgud Theatre until 10 September 2023.

Child friendly?

The Crucible is best for ages 12+. The production features strong language, some distressing themes, bright lights, and haze.