The physical qualities of the play seemed pretty sound to me. Most of the gestures and motions seemed good, with a few exceptions. Parris (Simon) had a habit of pacing up and down when he wasn’t speaking, at times where there didn’t seem any relevance to his character. When the girls were imitating Mary Warren (Carita) Susanna Walcott (Liz) stood out, as she always seemed a bit later than the others.
She, in all 3 performances, tended to be the last one on the floor at the scream, and even then she didn’t go as low as the others. While this seems trivial, it stood out to me, as from where I was standing, they were all in profile, exaggerating this inconsistency. In general though, the physical elements of this mimicking were very good. The main physical fault that stood out to me however, was Aryan’s stagecraft. I think that the reason I noticed it so much is that I was aware of it from the notes of the dress rehearsal, so I was conscious of it during the performances. This is because of he was supposed to gesticulate with the arm furthest from the audience, but always seemed to want to use his right arm.
On the Friday, he began Act 3 by using the left arm, but then when he was supposed to use his right arm as he turned away, he continues to use his right arm throughout. I found this almost painful to watch because I was so aware of it, and others thought likewise when I discussed it afterwards. This would not have stood out so much if I wasn’t so aware of it though, and most of the audience wouldn’t recognise this as an error. Also, to my knowledge, when I (Arresting Marshall) pushed Rebecca Nurse into Proctor, my energy was good, although the friend who said it to me may have just been being supportive, I can’t really judge my own performance. In general I think that the physical elements, excluding the ones mentioned negatively, were performed well.
The visual aspects of the play were to a high standard; the costume was all correct to the period, and none of it looked too modern. The make-up was effective, as it served its intended purpose, but wasn’t overdone; if it had been, it wouldn’t have suited the period very well. The props were also very good, as everything was there, nothing had to be excluded and improvised, or left out altogether. Even the smaller details, such as the soup were included, all adding to the authenticity of the production. The chains were a minor problem, as Sam had to be very still whilst waiting in Act 4; the slightest movement would make a noise, but this was not a big problem, and it is good that the chains were included.
The play seemed as if it had been designed very carefully, as it all ran smoothly at act changes, and the set was designed well- the entrances were all in the right places and the shape of the frame ensured that all on stage could be seen by the audience. One flaw with the set is that it was very minimalist, and was simply a frame. This was no problem though, as it meant only furniture needed changing between acts, and in theatre the background set is not important.
The scenic devices had careful planning, and the technical aspects were all tweaked very carefully at the technical rehearsal. Although the only electronic sound was the Lord’s Prayer at the end, it was very effective. There were also good manual sounds, such as the chains jangling when Elizabeth was being chained offstage, and the knocking sound before Danforth tells Herrick to wait before bringing Elizabeth in.
The only problem with this was that it came from the other side of the stage to the door where Herrick entered, however this was inconsequential. The lighting was excellent in the second two performances, as it was manual; it was automatic in the first, but the timing didn’t synchronise perfectly with the actors, so it was reverted to manual. The bit in which Abigail and Betty were saying who they saw with the devil, the darkening and spotlighting was very effective, as it was when Proctor proclaimed ‘God is dead!’ In general, the sound and lighting was very successful, and added to the performance.
The social context of the play was the Salem witch-hunts, where superstition on witchcraft was widespread, and any accusations were taken very seriously. There was a lot of fear around, as anyone could be accused of witchcraft, and false accusations could often lead to hanging; it was generally a case of guilty until proven innocent. The genre of the play is tragedy, as the main character dies at the end, and it is generally solemn. Miller, however, wrote it to symbolise the McCarthy Communist trials, with the witches representing communists.
There were no big heath and safety issues surrounding the play. One could have been the straw in act 4; people had to run across it, and it was very slippery, so people may have slipped and damaged themselves. Also the soup in act 2 could have been a health issue, but there were no serious health and safety issues. Other than these, there were no health and safety issues In general, I think that the play was, aside from a few minor hiccups, a very successful and enjoyable play. Most aspects of it were very good, despite a few minor flaws. It was well put together and all ran pretty smoothly. Although I was not in the audience to experience it, I’ve seen it and acted in it so many times that I know the play well, and have spoken to people who saw it as audience.