I think last night was maybe an eye opener to the fact that a good play doesn’t always mean good acting
The play went in and out for me . I think what it lacked was a necessary ” state of tension ” to deliver the truer nature of its intent.
The laughter got in the way of the significance . Irony was often mistaken for ” giggles ”
Not to say that lighter moments can never be found in any piece . The light balances the dark.
But I don’t think this adaptation knew what it wanted to do . Where it wanted to land with us ?
The direction , for me was at times misleading and a bit too understated in key parts .
Now it seems Abigail was much on people’s opinionated minds? Bad or just not well directed is now the question?
At whose feet do you place the responsibility for any poorer performance ? The actor or the director ?
Now It’s okay to say an actor or an actress is rubbish , if you can place yourself in a position of all round authority , if you know your stuff .
What you can certainly say is , you didn’t get the character , the way you thought you would .
In relation to the members of LYT ( Lyceum Youth Theatre ) on stage , this is fact . You knew they were ” uncomfortable ” .
You saw the baggage on stage with them , you witnessed poor stage presence , under energised voices , lack of passion.
But Abigail, the actress, I think , was either miscast or uncomfortable in her portrayal of this iconic stage role.
She held the stage at times , not in ” Abby character” , but in a confident if semi- effective presence .
Was she not talented then or just not right ?
Was she not up to the job or was she just struggling to find a connection to the character ?
It’s a hard one , to pin it down to just bad acting or one rubbish actress .
Did we empathise with her ? or just hate her ? Even hate is a kind of feeling isn’t it ? So did she get some of this character’s intent ?
I think in hindsight for me , she just didn’t understand the character enough , didn’t get under her thicker skin , didn’t play with the “madness” of her on stage . Because Abby is insane to play . A role that gives you everything you could wish for as an actress .The manipulation of both stage subject and audience .
Shefor me wasn’t vulnerable when she needed to be , wasn’t dangerous when it mattered , especially in the yellow bird courtroom scene.
Wasn’t in love with Proctor ?
The sensuality appeared ” tepid ” not ” steamy “‘.
The acting put on a lame hand gesture or two , not spontaneously grabbed …as the lines demand of them , when they meet .
But once again , was she directed to do that ? To play it less obviously ? The Director can sometimes be the actor’s jailor , not always their friend.
Mary Warren however , by contrast, was “good” , very good , throughout and certainly held her own in this predominantly male ensemble. Young and presence-full.
She had that kind of fragile stage presence that made you want to watch her , to feel empathy for her .
She struggled a little in the yellow bird scene , but managed to hang on to a believability , a realness in amongst the pretence of “acting” going on. She played the character well and I was drawn to her dilemma when John kept saying to her …believe in the Angel Raphael …
Was that the ability , the actress playing Abigail didn’t seem to have ? To be able to make the character believable ?
And Phil ? As Proctor ? Too young compared to his wife Elizabeth ? Or believable given the times they lived in ? Is that why he also strayed from ” Home “‘- was this deliberate on the part of the direction, to make them seem mismatched ?
Knowing Phil and the way he is and still was after a London Drama Centre training , I can say he was truthful in his delivery.
Tried feeling everything he was given, in the moment of it , every step of the play.
But it was almost for me, like he’d wandered into the wrong cast of this play, and was trying to figure out if he belonged there ?
He appeared to maybe “over act” at times , but I think only because the under whelming and static portrayal of others was being delivered back as such , when he needed the pace to rise or shift or move .
His final exit was probably the most underwhelming thing I’ve seen for so momentous a character
A shuffling away , a calling off , not the exit of a man broken and torn , being ripped from the love he finds too late , for his wife .
Certainly poor direction . Certainly could have been staged better .
There was no chemistry between him and Abigail , not matter how he tried . No spark to make us believe in his sin . The commandment he could not speak .
But with his wife ? Stage Chemistry ?
I think , a little that came and went , much as the play.
A few moments of genuine feeling . Touching delivery over rabbit stew and baby talk , and their conittment to own the stage as man and wife . But not enough , too seperate to be the truth .
The actress playing Elizabeth did have a vulnerability on stage , but I felt her try to act “too hard” at the end . Her body gestures stilted . And contrived , as if trying to feel the emotion.
I wanted it less forced and more natural , to make me understand the significant meaning of the final scene ; her final words to her husband . “Do what you will …John .” Do what you will …
Was he left with his goodness ? as she said it in the dark ?
I don’t know …I felt a bit left in the dark as the stage light fell to purposeful black .
I think Phil was left with a difficult final scene to play . The tearing of the document almost tacky. The others on stage , watching not adding to his act , tension missing .
Danforth didn’t help , he was largely a well known TV actor out there , playing it on more or less the one acting note .
Going through the motion of his delivery , neither here not there . Seasoned in style , but I think ineffective as the hidden anti-Christ figure , sent to taunt our fallen angel Proctor.
Hale In the other hand gave all he could .
I felt like Proctor , he was stuck in the same gear , constantly trying to shift the pace Along and up a gear with him.
Giles Corey gave us some touching moments , both comic and tragic . Funny because he was comedic as a character , not playing it for laughs. His character was beautifully acted and very of the time.
Parris, an old PACE friend of ours was professional in his delivery . He did what he knew , but circled round the others ; I think, waiting for his “cue” to act . This came with some , easier than others .
Betty and Abigail were a real struggle for him I warrant …especially in the first scene , that fell rather flat . Wayward accents not settling into one place and time. And again the lack of pace and tension to catch us from the start .
Greg ( Parris ) is a very good actor , so I think he probably knows this cast haven’t clicked with this play yet .
It’s early in its run . Maybe in a few weeks , they’ll ease with one another and the strictures of direction ; and find the message of the play amid ” all the Acting ” . That can happen , if casts grow together and the audience reaction doesn’t get in the way of the play.
At times it was a bit ” the struggle of the Alpha actors ” as a company of so many males on stage can produce . Too many silly hats and grim faces.
Someone I really liked was Tituba . Her Barbadian accent took me back to my Barbadian midwife who delivered my son.
” you go girl ” as I recall her saying …And go I certainly went !!!!!
But this actress played her with a real authentic twang that if , better returned, by “the Girls she conjured with “, might have been so much more ” affecting ”
She was excellent , but much as others who had to act with Abigail ( and crones ) , left a bit short changed on her impact as the plays catalyst .
I liked the Set. But wanted it better used.
The Trees , for me, cried out for inclusion. The dark woods that held an Unholy secret …the devil in the dark…
The music like some of the direction , a bit limp ; was it in ? It certainly was predictably on cue after a while ?
Better to have gone without , than be as token , as to make you ask yourself , was it meant to be there at all ?!
It just goes to show what upwards of £ 10,000 can produce . The amount extra the Lyceum would probably have got for putting on the show.
Was it all worth it ?
I couldn’t help feel , that if I’d known it was going to be like that , would I have booked the bus ?
But and there’s always a BUT…
Isn’t it always good to make the effort to see things ?
Isn’t it important to see the quality of what else is going on ? Professional or not ?
I think it was more than worthwhile , in light of answering a Higher English question or putting how much you actually are beginning to understand about theatre and acting , into perspective . Which for some now , is quite a lot !!
I think the fact you’ve once again gone to the theatre, is another step forward in opening up to stuff you normally wouldn’t see …even if you didn’t enjoy it as much as the last time …
And though you might not understand what I’m talking about in acting terms . Maybe you’ll have an opinion now yourself when we talk about “the Crucible” .
For this is one of American playwright Arthur Miller’s finest works , a damming and very clever inditement of the House Unamerican Activities Committee of the late 40’s ( something which came up in Verona in 2008 )
…where many were falsely accused of Communist sympathy in a post world war 2 fragile world .
Victimised and ostracised for having beliefs that were different from the fearful majority. Something that could have become very much worse than a bloodlust witch hunt …
Once you know the background to both the Salem Witch Trials of puritanical 17th Century Massachusettes and the McCarthy Era in America , suddenly the play becomes so much more than “a bunch of strange people talking about the devil in funny accents”
Suddenly the importance of seeing a play , more serious plays with messages , theatre done straight to the point , is right there in front of you.
So heres to our next serious theatre trip.
But a huge thanks for once again supporting this one!
And don’t be afraid to have your own opinion . Just because I see it my way , doesn’t always mean you have to too ! I see things through a far broader experience , so that influences me . You as more innocent eyes may see something entirely different . That’s why theatre is for everyone .
I thought it was important to at least say something . Rather than letting last night go as just a PACE trip to Edinburgh !