Sunderland University at The Customs House
10 May 2011
My second instalment of the great work by the University students from across the water(south ways) takes place in the very intimate Studio, sometimes set aside for cinema, but tonight booked for the thirteen strong first year drama players.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller written in 1953 is a dark tale set around the witch craft trials of 17th Century America. At this time occultism and it's propaganda was a very big threat to the Government, many so called witches were hanged and thousands of exorcisms took place. A very unsettling time indeed.
The stage is set with Betty Parris, played by Laura Beaton lying unconscious on her bed. She had been seen in the forest, along with Abigail Williams played by Billie Thompson dancing and performing witchcraft movements. Rev. Parris, played by Ryan Callan is praying for his daughters life. The townspeople are all full of gossip and a lot of them come and go to see and hear for themselves the truthfulness of the stories.
Farmer John Proctor played by Sasha Bell is one such town folk, he comes to the house but is soon alone with Abigail, who tries to seduce him. It seems that Proctor and her have already had an affair, but was hushed up and temporarily forgotten about.
The story weaves in and out of different acts of name calling, accusations, prosecutions in the court house and finally to jail where the guilty have been tried.
Great acting by the students, with a difficult genre in place they seemed to let it flow between scenes with some ease. On the run sheet of the cast that I was given it mentioned that a few of the performers had only 48 hours to prepare for their role, and such might be reading the script. Ryan was the only one that I saw doing this, but he only needed a quick peek a few times to get up to speed. This shows what a dedicated bunch they all are.
Sasha Bell came through for me as being the top performer, she acted out her part with flair and positioned herself well against her other cast members. Not that this was a competition between them, the general state of the Uni cast heading into the future is a promising one, I look forward to seeing more from these lot in the years to come.
For the rest of the programme, please visit The Customs House website