The Crucible at Groundlings Theatre, Portsea

Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah

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The Crucible is one of the best plays of the 20th century and Arthur Miller’s words still ring like a peel of bells.

Likewise, the anti-persecution sentiment of the original still holds value today.

So how do Groundlings manage with their version? Well, not too badly at all.

There were some clangers – music drowning vital dialogue, actors in very 21st-century glasses, words being mispronounced (someone needs to look up ‘indictment’) – and a lack of attention to detail (Puritan girls in public with their hair down and on display? Never!), but there were some performance gems that lifted the evening.

Beautiful Emma Uden as the inscrutable, sex-driven Abigail and Tom Fisher as Danforth, the judge, do well – though Fisher needs to up the pace in the trial-scene - and Ciara Lucas does some lovely work as Betty Parris but – rightly – the show belongs to Stephen Ward and Corinna Jane Aggar as John and Elizabeth Proctor.

The Act Two dialogue, skirting round their marriage problems, is nicely handled and the Act Four prison scene verges on the sublime, although Aggar’s anger on the last line is bewildering. Surely Elizabeth should rejoice in her husband’s ultimate victory?

Until October 30.