Chelmsford Civic Youth Theatre at the Cramphorn
CCYT brings together youngsters from all over the borough to learn about the skills of stage-craft. This was their first full-length production.
Arthur Miller's classic was a good choice in many ways. It is a great play, which repays repeated study. And it gives worthwhile roles to a large number of actors, of varying degress of expertise. But it treats of adult themes of hysteria and betrayal, and has a heavy 20th century subtext. And clearly simply mastering the words was a challenge for some of these performers. The set and costumes were simple, but the groupings and stage pictures were often very effective. The pace was generally good, although there was a tendency to rush the words.
The girls who feel the devil's touch were closest to the age of the actors, and there were promising performances as Abigail, and a diminutive but dramatically powerful Mary Warren. The Reverend Hale has some of the best writing, and this too was a performance of some style. The group was fortunate in having an actor of great presence as their John Proctor. Always watchable, he spoke his lines with clarity and passion, and showed a real empathy with his character. His final scene with Elizabeth, his confession and retraction, were great moments.
This is a unique group, and clearly ambitious. I look forward with interest to their next outing.