“An everlasting funeral marches round your heart”
And creatively it really is a triumph – Soutra Gilmour utilising the in-the-round setting perfectly whilst Richard Hammarton’s pervasive music and sound wriggle under the skin and Tim Lutkin’s lighting creates as much shadow as it does light, all combining to heighten the increasingly nightmarish scenario as the action snowballs to the terrible climax we know must come. The immediacy and intimacy that comes from being much closer than usual (for the vast majority in this theatre anyway) is almost unbearable but completely justifies keeping the theatre in this configuration for a while longer.
Farber adroitly resists the temptation to update the play – we’re firmly in the seventeenth century here – and it is an inspired choice as it means that one can appreciate the different ways in which the story has been interpreted since Miller wrote it in 1953 yet not feel constrained by them. At the time of writing, Miller was processing the rise of McCarthyism, at this moment in time it feels like a critique of religious fundamentalism of any hue but crucially, it also works as a finely crafted drama about the Salem witch trials themselves.
A production that makes sense then of the huge queues for returns and worth catching when the filmed version is released by Digital Theatre later this year.