Three-and-a-half-hours engulf your soul like a black mass in this titanic, ritualistic production of Arthur Miller’s tragedy about the Salem witch trials from hot property South African director Yaël Farber. And yes, that is one heck of a running time, partly due to a clutch of wordless movement sequences Farber has inserted into the in-the-round production, most notably the audacious opening in which the entire, black-clad cast shuffle about the stage in a fug of incense like some apocalyptic rite (kudos to movement director Imogen Knight).
Richard Armitage interview: ‘I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry’
‘The Crucible’ actor talks of the pains of playing John Proctor as a recording of the Old Vic production hits cinemas
Richard ‘Thorin Oakenshield’ Armitage gave the performance of a lifetime this summer in Yaël Farber’s epochal Old Vic production of ‘The Crucible’, Arthur Miller’s tragedy about the Salem witch trials. Now a recorded version of ‘The Crucible’ will have two screenings nationwide on December 4 and 7.
Presumably the cinema release of ‘The Crucible’ is happening because it was such a big hit?
‘Yeah, it was something that came together towards the end of the run. I’m really into it – I’ve seen live opera in the cinema, primarily because I can’t afford the good seats, and it’s absolutely fantastic, the close-ups and camera angles make it a different experience.’
It’s been 12 years since you last did a play – why ‘The Crucible’ for your comeback?
‘I played Proctor’s final scene at drama school, and it was the first time I really connected to a character. I finished the act and didn’t really know how I’d gotten to the end and the teachers were all… we all knew something had happened. It’s the moment I became an actor, that’s the reason I wanted to do it.’
People might be surprised at the northern accent – is that how the real John Proctor spoke?
‘We know they were colonists, so probably came from the UK. Proctor was an educated farmer, so Lancashire felt like a good fit.’
Your performance was shattering to watch – presumably it was pretty knackering to actually do it?
‘I’d get into the shower to wash off the blood, then go and meet fans at the stage door and I was dazed, a bit like coming out of the boxing ring. I felt I had to be smiling but I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.’
Any plans for more theatre?
‘Yes, now that I’ve broken the taboo of not being on stage for 12 years. Yaël and I will definitely work together again, because we both got such a kick out of each other. It might be 2016, but it certainly won’t be too long.’
‘The Crucible’ is in cinemas Thur Dec 4 and Sun Dec 7. See www.thecrucibleonscreen.com.
Read more about ‘The Crucible’
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