Everyone who is even remotely familiar with The Crucible will be aware it was written by Arthur Miller as a vicious stab through the heart of the notorious McCarthy witch-hunts of the 1950s which remain a dark stain on 20th century American politics.
However, the searing insights into the human condition provided by Miller resonate loudly and significantly in the Trump era when the current US President regularly carries out his own witch-hunts against migrants, the media or just about anything he happens to disagree with.
Therefore it is not surprising the play remains a regular feature on the GCSE syllabus which was amply demonstrated on Wednesday night at Storyhouse when the audience was predominantly made up of teenagers.
There is no doubt this night at the theatre will have helped them take a decisive step towards a decent exam grade as they were treated to an accessible, beautifully performed and emotionally powerful production which was masterminded with tremendous flair and imagination by actress turned director Geraldine Alexander.
From the stunning, almost cinematic opening of young girls illicitly dancing in the woods to the admittedly bleak but still somehow triumphant final moments, this traditional but atmospheric and compelling staging of the celebrated play takes hold of you and never lets go.
The story has the high concept premise of a group of young women, led by the murderously vindictive Abigail Williams (Eleanor Sutton relishing the challenge of playing someone so despicable), realising they can deflect potential accusations of witchcraft as a result of their wicked woodland frolics by pointing the finger of suspicion at others in their God-fearing community - especially those they may have a personal grudge against.
The fact they are living in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 means their lies can be told against a backdrop of terror and anxiety fostered by a religious and legal elite that is all too ready to believe and condemn those whose behaviour does not completely conform with their idea of what is considered normal.
In this world, ploughing on a Sunday, reading a book in secret, failing to attend church every Sabbath or owning a child’s doll can be twisted into ‘evidence’ of collusion with the Devil himself.
Towering over this production is a performance by Matthew Flynn which is simply one of the best I have ever seen in a theatre. He plays John Proctor, an honest farmer who tells it like it is but has a dark guilty secret which put the lives of him and his decent, long-suffering wife Elizabeth (brilliant Mary Doherty) at risk and leaves both of them at the mercy of vengeful Abigail.
Flynn expertly brings out the down to earth humanity of his character and, despite the occasional flash of cruelty displayed against his servant girl Mary Warren (an astonishing multi-layered portrayal by Leigh Quinn), transforms him into the hero of the hour by simply making him the voice of reason as he watches everyone else lose theirs.
The scene towards the end where John and Elizabeth are reunited but face having to make choices that will determine whether or not they survive the madness is intensely moving and almost unbearable to watch thanks to the empathy evoked by how sensitively it is played by both Flynn and Doherty.
A word too about Martin Turner who, as deputy governor Danforth, holds the fate of everyone in the community in his hands and commands the stage effortlessly during the extraordinary courtroom scene which dominates the second half.
Turner magnificently achieves the difficult balance of showing how Danforth can be both an intelligent figure of authority and a gullible fool so easily manipulated by the mood of the times and the actions of a group of ruthlessly motivated young girls.
Whether you or someone you know is studying The Crucible or if you just want to indulge in a theatrical experience that will stay with you for a long time to come, this is a show not to be missed.
But you need to be quick because the production only runs at Storyhouse until July 7.