Newcomer Samantha Colley has been picked to appear with Hobbit heartthrob Richard Armitage in one of the year’s most important theatrical productions.
The 23-year-old from the West Country will form a lustful - but highly dangerous - liaison with Armitage in a new production of Arthur Miller’s classic The Crucible, which begins performances at the Old Vic Theatre on June 24.
She will play Abigail Williams, a love-struck girl who persuades god-fearing (and married) John Proctor to ‘lapse’, and then, when he doesn’t want to ‘lapse’ any more, charts a spiteful course for revenge in 17th-century Salem, Massachusetts.
Abigail’s actions set off a hysterical chain reaction in the Puritan village when she accuses Proctor and others of all manner of things, including witchcraft.
Miller’s play was a commentary on the anti-Communist U.S. Congress witch-hunts of the late Forties and early Fifties. But the play still has plenty of relevance, which is why Kevin Spacey, the Old Vic’s artistic director, was so smart to bring it back.
Spacey was also astute to have the piece directed by South African playwright Yael Farber, who won international acclaim for her Strindberg reinvention of Miss Julie, Mies Julie.
Armitage has had what were described to me as ‘several very exciting’ conversations with Ms Farber about how she plans to interpret Miller’s drama. However, he is still in final discussions.
Whatever she said clearly entranced him, because he signed on to do the show not having been on the London stage, or any other for that matter, for 13 years.
Most people will know Armitage from either Robin Hood or Spooks on television. He also played the lead in the BBC’s adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North And South.
More recently, he has attracted a global fan-base thanks to his performance as Thorin, leader of the company of dwarves, in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy (the final part, There And Back Again, is out in December).