Ivo Von Hove directed a remarkable production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. This production was visually striking, superbly acted, and horrifyingly frightening commentary on our current political crisis. Von Hove made an excellent choice to bring this play to New York at this exact time. He saw, in this story, the trouble of today's world. A world of the "Trump hysteria," where you're burned for being Muslim, gay, or even just a woman. Arthur Miller's play is so timely, it's almost as if history has repeated itself.
Von Hove's production itself is outstanding. From the lighting to the sound to the set, everything about the production is executed to perfection. The fact that the entire play is set in a classroom really struck me. I still haven't quite figured out what it was meant to symbolize (The school-yard, childish behavior of the adults? The naivety and brash actions taken by the characters reflecting those of uneducated students?), but I was particular impressed with the usage of the large blackboard throughout the show. I thought it added another level of visuals and created a feeling of unease. The lighting and sound design also had a huge impact on the tension of the play. They both reflected the constant sense of anxiety and unease of the characters. Von Hove is a spectacular theater director (Anyone who was privileged enough to see A View from the Bridge knows that), and I, an aspiring director myself, am so thankful to be able to see his brilliant work.
Now, the real reason I chose to see The Crucible was not because of Von Hove or because I'm an Arthur Miller fanatic, but because of Ben Whishaw. I am such a huge admirer of Whishaw and his work; I truly believe he is the Olivier of this generation. I have been moved countless times by Whishaw's performances; he brings such sensitivity and rawness and humanity to all the characters he plays. It's honestly such a privilege to watch any one of Whishaw's characters come to life. Watching each of Whishaw characters is a new lesson in the crazy art of acting, and, as an actor myself, I strive to bring the absolute authenticity to each of my characters as Whishaw does to his own.
So, because of my complete admiration and adoration for Whishaw's work, I was NOT going to miss seeing him in a theater production in my own country! The minute I heard Ben Whishaw was coming to Broadway, I bought tickets right away. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. He is a powerhouse in this role. His performance as John Proctor was powerful, raw, and unforgiving. He brought an entirely new perspective to Proctor's character; he brought a spirituality and holiness to the only person in Salem who rejects religion. I was just completely blown away by this performance. I genuinely couldn't stop watching him on stage. I didn't want to miss one second of his brilliance. Seeing Whishaw's brilliant acting in the flesh just reiterated the true talent he possesses.
Sophie Okonedo and Ciarán Hinds were perfect compliments to Whishaw's spectacular John Proctor. Okonedo's toughness and strength was the perfect complement to Whishaw's meager Proctor. The two were absolutely brilliant in every scene they had together. The chemistry and trust between these two actors showed the true love between husband and wife. It was impossible to look away from these two fantastic actors.
Ciarán Hinds, as we all know, was phenomenal as well. As the judge, Hinds was only present during the second half of the show, but his presence did not go unnoticed. He was cool, confident, diplomatic, and thoughtful, something most of these characters are not. His character sees what we see as audience: insanity. But he must be true to his job and his beliefs regardless of the chaos of his surroundings, something all of us struggle with everyday. Also, a surprising stand out performance from Tavi Gevinson as Mary Warren. She was absolutely brilliant in her role.
Von Hove complied a stellar cast for this production. Each actor was absolutely perfect to tell the story of these characters. This cast of actors completely brought the house down.
Overall, I absolutely loved The Crucible. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is a very powerful and telling production. It poses an ominous threat about the future of America if we continue to let fear and hearsay drive our lives.
Production Photo Credits: magazine.com, playbill.com, variety.com, twitter.com, newyorktheater.com