BROADWAY BUZZ | THE CRUCIBLE / by Brackett Bilodeau

Image courtesy of thecrucibleonbroadway.com

Image courtesy of thecrucibleonbroadway.com

The Crucible makes a triumphant return to the Broadway stage in quite the unexpected fashion, thanks to Belgian director Ivo van Hove. After taking the theatre scene by storm with his acclaimed direction of Lazarus and Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, Van Hove now sinks his hands into his second Miller classic to the delight of the Broadway community. With a haunting soundtrack commandeered by Philip Glass alongside a breathtaking cast and crew (among them a live wolf), all moving parts collectively shift the traditionally 17th century plot to an eerily nondescript period in time with young girls in Catholic school uniforms, their elders in modernized suits and sweaters, surrounded by the gymnasium-esque Jan Versweyveld-designed set. Each element seems to be far from the obvious, yet together working seamlessly in the unraveling of the story.

If not just for Van Hove’s influence, The Crucible is worth seeing based on Saoirse Ronan's and Ben Whishaw’s performances alone. Whishaw takes on the heavy role of John Proctor, the Salem farmer whose affair with former maid Abigail Williams (played by Ronan) begins the story of lust, fear, deception, and the infamous Salem witch trials. Wishaw is not the typical casting choice for a character like John Proctor, who is generally portrayed as a big, towering man, with a powerful presence (the likes of Liam Neeson, Martin Sheen, and Daniel Day Lewis) -- Whishaw is small and lanky, but rises to the challenge. The supporting actors come from across the globe, all using subdued versions of their native accents, delivering a powerful performance through yet another strategic move by Van Hove to cleverly muddy the the details of the setting.

The Crucible is playing a strict limited engagement at the Walter Kerr Theatre through July 17. Contact your Attaché for tickets.