THE witch hunt exhibited in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, penned in the 1950s, may date back to the 1600s, but the play’s themes echo on in modern society.

We’ve seen trial by the courts – and the media – of celebrities accused of various acts. And the phrase ‘witch hunt’ has been bandied about as some have been cleared, others have not.

Cases have seen accusations multiply as alleged victims gain confidence in numbers, just as the girls at the centre of the Salem trials bonded over their ‘cause’.

Director Peter Allen’s production of the 20th Century classic for The Garrick, running at the ACE Centre until Saturday, remains true to the setting of the piece.

Period costumes set the tone, and a studio set worked extremely well; the imposing beams helped create a darkening atmosphere, and a sense of pressure on those below.

The lighting added to the mood of the piece, although it was a little too dark in the closing act – when dirtied faces combined with lower lights meant some expression was lost. That said, the final change was beautifully executed and very moving.

Allen’s ensemble truly excelled across the board, and with such a large cast it would be unfair to single out any performances. I hope the younger cast members have seized the opportunity to draw on the experienced hands they shared the stage with – I know I did, even as an audience member. It really was a case of strength in depth, and wonderful to see such a broad age range involved.

While a couple of characterisations on first impression seemed slightly weaker than others, their development through the story soon put this to one side as their progression added to the dramatic conclusion.

With the period setting in mind, just decades after the Pilgrim Fathers settled in America, it was fitting that the cast maintained regional English accents – and the native Lancashire tones perhaps giving this production even more poignancy, given our own local links to witch trials.

An eternally popular choice for school exam syllabuses, there was a large number of students in the audience, a useful marketing trick well employed by The Garrick.

n The Crucible, The Garrick, ACE Centre, until Saturday. Call 01282 661080 for tickets.