Charlie Condou as witch-hunter Reverend Hale (Coronation Street) and Victoria Yeates (Call The Midwife) as the falsely accused Elizabeth Proctor lead the cast in this bold new production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Set in a small 17th century New England town, a children’s game has terrifying consequences as allegations of witchcraft break out. Quickly caught up in an unstoppable flow of paranoia, accusation, and manipulation, the community is consumed by a climate of suspicion where no person is safe from its neighbour. In our current political crucible, Miller’s epic is a chilling reminder of the frailty of reason in the face of hysteria.
Charlie Condou recently answered a few questions that we put to him about The Crucible:
Q: What attracted you to be a part of this production of The Crucible?
Charlie: Since I left Coronation Street, I’ve been doing mainly TV and I spent a bit of time last year touring with Rocky Horror and I’ve really enjoyed being back on stage. This part came up and it felt like a nice thing to do. It’s a serious piece of theatre and I thought it would be a challenge.
Q: For those that don’t know the storyline – what can you tell us about The Crucible?
Charlie: The Crucible is set in 1692 and it’s about the witch trials. It’s based on a true story and it follows the story of some girls that start accusing people of being witches. It’s about how that snowballs and gets out of control. It’s a thriller!
Q: You play the role of the witch-hunter Reverend Hale. What can you tell us about him?
Charlie: Reverend Hale is a really interesting character because he starts off as one thing and ends up very different. He turns up originally as supposedly an expert on witches and witch-hunting as he’d already found a witch in another town, Beverley, or at least he thinks he has. So he’s the expert, he’s the one they all turn to because he knows about this stuff. In a way he’s the one that starts it all off, he ‘discovers’ the witch and gets the courts involved and the whole thing starts. Gradually as the play goes on he starts to realise that it’s not true and the girls are lying. But at that point it’s too late and people are already condemned and he starts to feel incredibly guilty about it. He tries to change things around, he tries to solve the problem and he can’t. So he’s wracked with guilt.
Q: The production draws parallels with Trump’s America and Post Brexit UK where truth is no longer an absolute, and daily reports of race-driven hate crime fill the news. Are you able to expand on this?
Charlie: I think the great thing about The Crucible is it’s set in 1692 but it’s written by Arthur Miller in the 1950s when a very similar story was going on with the McCarthy trials which were looking for Communists in America. There are a lot of parallels between the two stories, that’s why he wrote it. But the great thing about it is you can sort of set it in any time because we always find the story as a whole is quite relevant to situations we face today. So for example, it’s very relevant to what’s happening in America at the moment and this new thing of ‘alternative facts’ that everyone is talking about and not believing what’s in the media and the hysteria that seems to be surrounding certain groups of people like Muslims, LGBT, and blaming them for the world’s problem. That’s kind of one of the themes of the play and I think the great thing about it is people can go and see The Crucible and relate it to anything that’s going on at the time. It’s great to have those kinds of discussions about a piece of drama.
Q: What excites you most about being a part of this production?
Charlie: The Crucible is one of my favourite plays so I’ve always wanted to be in it. I was really excited to work with Doug because I’d heard great things about him, and they were all true, he’s a brilliant director. It’s a really great company of people, so I think it’s going to be a nice tour to be a part of.
Q: What do you enjoy most about touring?
Charlie: So far everyone’s really nice, we get on really well and we’re quite a tight little company. When we go on tour we’ve already decided that groups of us are going to be staying together in houses in various different places and it’s always nice to do things like that. It’s nice to travel around the country and see different parts of the world. But it’s different when you’ve got small kids, so I’ll be nipping back every Sunday I’m sure!
Q: Why should everyone get along to see this production?
Charlie: I think everyone should come and see this production because it’s a really great production. It’s a complex play and it’s not difficult to follow and it makes you think. It’s a brilliant drama, perfectly constructed with some brilliant characters and it’s a classic. It’s a really good production of a classic.
This atmospheric staging of a theatre classic bringing together music and movement through an ever-present cast is directed by Douglas Rintoul, Artistic Director of the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, and is co-produced with Selladoor Productions, in association with Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg.
Cast also includes: Eoin Slattery, whose career includes roles at The National Theatre, The Royal Exchange Theatre and Hull Truck, as John Proctor and Lucy Keirl, who recently took the role of Juliet in The Watermill’s 2016 production of Romeo and Juliet, as Abigail Williams. Other cast members comprise, Paul Beech as Francis Nurse, David Delve as Giles Corey, Cornelius Clarke as Reverend Parris, Diana Yekinni as Tituba and Mercy Lewis, David Kirkbride as Ezekiel Cheever, Eleanor Montgomery as Ann Putnam and Susanna Walcott, Augustina Seymour as Mary Warren and Rebecca Nurse, Leona Allen as Betty Parris and Carl Patrick as Thomas Putnam and Marshall Herrick.
One of the twentieth century’s landmark dramas, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible stands as both a historical record and a political parable for our times. The unrelenting and violent witch-hunt, which was originally written as an allegory about the brutal reign McCarthyism, which swept across the political landscape of 1950s America, resonates into the present day as a stark and ferocious warning from the past.
Friday 17th February – Saturday 11th March
HORNCHURCH Queen’s Theatre
Box Office www.queens-theatre.co.uk | 01708 443333
Tuesday 14th March – Saturday 18th March
DARTFORD Orchard Theatre
Box Office www.orchardtheatre.co.uk | 01322 220000
Monday 20th March – Saturday 25th March
CHELTENHAM Everyman Theatre
Box Office www.everymantheatre.org.uk
01242 572573 ON SALE
Tuesday 28th March – Saturday 1st April
ABERDEEN His Majesty’s Theatre – 01224 641122
Box Office www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/venues/his-majestys-theatre
Thursday 6th April – Saturday 8th April
LUXEMBOURG Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg
Box Office www.theatres.lu
Tuesday 11th April – Saturday 15th April
Box Office Richmond | 0870 060 6651
Monday 24th April – Saturday 29th April
BRIGHTON Theatre Royal
Box Office Brighton | 0844 871 7650
Monday 8th May – Saturday 13th April
MANCHESTER Opera House
Box Office Manchester Opera House | 0844 871 7650
Tuesday 23rd May – Saturday 27th May
CARDIFF New Theatre
Box Office www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk | 029 2087 8889
Monday 5th June- Saturday 10th June
BIRMINGHAM New Alexandra Theatre
Box Office New Alexandra Theatre | 0844 871 3011
Monday 12th June – Saturday 17th June
GLASGOW Theatre Royal
Box Office Theatre Royal Glasgow | 0844 871 7647