NOT since Errol Flynn and his Merrie Men stole from the rich to give to the poor, in his famous role as Robin Hood, have so many men in tights been on display as there were at the Kings Langley Community Centre last Friday night.

The addition of hosiery merely augmented the authentic costume of this period piece, however, as along with the minimalist stage setting, it took a back seat to the powerful acting performances by those wearing the aforementioned garments.

The plot of Arthur Miller's The Crucible is based on the real-life witchcraft trials, which took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

In the play, a host of townspeople are falsely accused of witchcraft by a group of girls protecting their own guilt having been caught dancing in the forest at night. When John Proctor's wife Elizabeth is named as a witch, he brings his servant Mary to the court to testify the girls are lying. When Mary claims John is a witch, however, he is quickly arrested.

Elizabeth later persuades John to confess, to save his own life, but when he refuses to name names, he tears up the confession and is taken to be hanged.

After a slow start, the performance burst into life as the accusations of witchcraft took centre stage. Nick Davey, as John Proctor, was particularly impressive and well supported by Sally-Anne Rafferty as the chief accuser Abigail Williams, and Andrew Knight (Reverend Hale) - the witch-hunter who eventually loses his faith in the law. Guy Peskin also impressed as Deputy-Governor Danforth, the boisterous judge who desperately tries to keep his court in order.

Though clocking in at just under three hours, this was an engaging ensemble production that was enhanced by some strong acting. The rows of empty seats, however, suggest The Players continue to be unappreciated.

Michael Pickard