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Theatre Review (Singapore): The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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Toy Factory’s first performance for the new year was The Crucible by Arthur Miller, which ran at the Drama Centre from February 7 – 23, 2013.

The Crucible is about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and how through deceit and paranoia, people of the town were unfairly accused of being witches. The play explores the events leading to this, and the effects of such a volatile situation.

Toy Factory’s version of this play had established and experienced actors alongside newer, less experienced faces. This led to a bit of inconsistency in terms of the acting. While Julie Wee stood out as usual, playing various roles – Wee has a tendency to completely throw herself into each of her characters – and Sharda Harrison and Matt Grey gave very natural and convincing portrayals of Mary Warren and Deputy Governor Danforth respectively, the established actors Timothy Nga and Rodney Oliveiro could have injected more variety and layers into their expressions and dialogue delivery.

Interspersed into the play were less established faces like Marc Valentine and Jean Toh, as well as some of the other secondary actors, who didn’t have much depth in their portrayal because of a limited range of emotions, expressions and delivery, which stunted their performances.

The costumes were fancy and were all designed uniformly which meant that certain types of patterns were found on almost all of the characters’ outfits. While quirky and pretty, the costumes were a bit confusing in a play set in a century when such modern wear wouldn’t have been utilized. The problem with adapting such plays to a modern era is that the dialogue remains from another time altogether, often making this type of modern/traditional fusion rather clumsy and unsuitable.

Having said that, director Rayann Condy did a good job in staging the action on a semi-static stage that had very few changes in set and decoration. The actors utilized the staging area appropriately, bringing the action prominently centre stage or down stage as deemed necessary.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.