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Arthur Miller's The Crucible, starring Call the Midwife's Victoria Yeates, is also considered a post-Brexit and Trump play

By Angela Cole

From Call the Midwife to The Crucible may seem like a jump in acting terms but Victoria Yeates was more than happy to take on both roles.

Victoria, who plays Sister Winifred in the BBC1 Sunday night drama, some of which is filmed at Chatham Historic Dockyard, is relishing playing the falsely-accused Elizabeth Proctor in Arthur Miller’s play, which comes to Dartford.

“We have had such a good response, it has been amazing. It is heavy – it’s three hours long and there’s a lot of crying for me every day. But I really get to work those acting muscles.

Victoria Yeates in The Crucible
Victoria Yeates in The Crucible

“It is a serious subject but it has been really fun doing it. That was my training, I went to RADA, so I was excited to do it in between filming.”

Arthur Miller’s hard-hitting tale of the Salem witch hunts was originally written as an allegory of the brutal McCarthyism of American politics in the 1950s, but many have seen parallels in a post-Brexit UK.

In a small 17th century New England town, a children’s game has terrifying consequences as allegations of witchcraft break out. Quickly caught up in aflow of paranoia, accusation and manipulation, the community is consumed by a climate of suspicion where no person is safe from its neighbour. One of the 20th century’s landmark plays, Miller’s work stands as both a historical record and a political parable for our times.

Eoin Slattery as John Proctor and Lucy Keirl as Abigail Williams in The Crucible
Eoin Slattery as John Proctor and Lucy Keirl as Abigail Williams in The Crucible

“It is the right time to put it on with what’s going on politically,” said Victoria. “It seems to be connecting with people in lots of different ways.

“He wrote it about McCarthyism but the themes associated with it are ever present in society now. This could happen again. It is still relevant today. It’s a thriller and a bit of a whirlwind. You cannot quite believe what is happening. People said Trump won’t get in but he is in, so it’s a case of never say never.”

There is also an emotional side to the play, as it is a story of an affair, and, Victoria said, it has struck a chord with audiences on many levels.

“People have told us after seeing it they have been really, really moved and a bit shaken up.”

Though hardly a “break” from her Call the Midwife role, she has fitted it in around filming. Although unable to say exactly when the crew will be back in Chatham, she and fiance Paul – who proposed while she was on location with the BBC series at Christmas – have been in the area, taking a day trip to Rochester last week. The couple live in Plumstead, south-east London.

Arthur Miller's The Crucible is coming to Dartford's Orchard Theatre
Arthur Miller's The Crucible is coming to Dartford's Orchard Theatre

She said: “I love Rochester. We don’t live that far from Kent so definitely want to explore more. We love coming to film at the dockyard too. It is so beautiful there and there’s a lovely coffee shop and you can get tea and cake and stuff!”

Although Call the Midwife may for some be considered a big contrast to The Crucible, the show has received praise for its treatment of difficult issues, such as female circumcision.

“They have done so well in being able to tackle stuff that is so serious,” she said.

“It has to be enjoyable at that time on a Sunday for everyone to watch while also addressing lots of serious issues. I’m so very proud to be part of such a show.”

DETAILS

The Crucible will be at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford from Tuesday, March 14 to Saturday, March 18. To book tickets from £14.50 visit orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.

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