Georgia's crucible

30th August 1996 at 01:00
AGeorgian director and his team have drawn on their experiences of the break up of the Soviet Union for a production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds. They believe that The Crucible is applicable to any society and Miller was not just writing about New England, or 50s America for that matter.

David Doiashvili remembers his own family sitting frozen and silent around a table when they heard of approaching Russian tanks. The first person to move was his mother, she started cleaning the room and tidying the furniture without saying a word. And in Act Two of The Crucible, Doiashvili has the distressed Elizabeth Proctor silently cleaning her room.

The production stays faithful to the text but there are interesting changes to accepted ways of staging. When Hale enters the Proctor home he has to sit on the floor, Elizabeth has put the only spare stool on the table. He stays on the floor, feeling their hatred but winning their attention, and they slowly realise that he has something special to say and must be listened to. The hangings do not happen off stage, screens are pulled away to show the hanging bodies lit by the morning sun.

Doiashvili introduces the character Abigail Williams to the Proctor home, even though she is not there in the text. Williams moves almost like a dancer, coming between husband and wife but visible only to Proctor and reacting to his anger. Williams appears at the very beginning of the play dancing on stage. She is an old woman, a prostitute, and the play is viewed through her eyes.

Doiashvili has the skill to ensure that The Crucible is riveting. Watching scenes in only the second week at rehearsal I was enthralled by the quality of tension and fear.

West Yorks Playhouse, Leeds, from September 6 to October 5. Tickets: 0113 244 2111

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