Arthur Miller's 1953 classic "The Crucible" returns to the Broadway stage with a whole new look. NY1’s Roma Torre filed the following review.
For those of you who fell in love with Saoirse Ronan in the film "Brooklyn," get ready to fall out – with her character, that is. The excellent actress plays the bad seed Abigail in "The Crucible" and with Ivo Van Hove at the helm, we are treated to another bewitchingly provocative revival of an Arthur Miller classic.
Van Hove does not reinvent so much as he distills. As he did so masterfully with Miller’s "A View From the Bridge," he eliminates all but the most suggestive props and minimal furniture to give his actors room to stretch their talented wings and fly. And here, in the case of this haunting story of alleged witchcraft in 17th century New England, it is literally so.
Miller’s 1953 retelling of that nightmarish episode in American history feels awfully relevant even as it is billed as an allegory relating to the Communist Red Scare that terrorized the nation at the time.
The entire stage is opened up in what appears to be a contemporary classroom with a giant blackboard and desks. The girls are dressed in school uniforms and the adult costumes are nondescript, all of which suggests perhaps the unfortunate institutionalization of our wilder natures. The witchcraft accusations are leveled only after the girls are threatened with severe punishment after being caught dancing naked in the woods.
With an original score by Philip Glass droning ominously, the lead performers are most impressive. Ciaran Hinds as Danforth, Tavi Gevinson as Mary Warren, Jim Norton's Giles Corey; Bill Camp as Reverend Hale, Ronan; and Ben Whishaw with Sophie Okonedo as John and Elizabeth Proctor share a raw intensity that burns through our collective consciousness long after the final curtain.
Purists may balk at Van Hove's tinkering and some of the effects seemed unnecessary, but Miller's message, that society can be just as blind as justice, comes through clear and resonant as ever.