The Playbill labels this ARTHUR MILLER’S THE CRUCIBLE, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind; this is IVO VAN HOVE‘S THE CRUCIBLE.  After his startling and revelatory production of Arthur Miller’s A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE last season, I am happy to report that Mr. Van Hove has reimagined a classic about mass hysteria and witch hunting into one hell of a scary tale.

This is the same CRUCIBLE that you read in high school.  After a short tryst with the married John Proctor, teen-aged Abigail Williams gathers her friends in the night to dance and cast a magic spell to make him leave his wife.  John and his wife, Elizabeth, are barely speaking so if Abigail had just held out for a few years till she graduated Puritan High, she might have lived happily ever after with her pedophile boyfriend.  Instead, one of her friends suffers a convulsion while dancing and as whispers of witchcraft turn to delirium, all hell breaks loose.

In previous productions, there are no real witches, “witch” is a stand-in for “Communist” or any other type of outsider that spurs xenophobia.  But in this version, we see the supernatural effects of a universe gone crazy due to a forbidden love just as plainly as the pissed look on Elizabeth Proctor’s face.  By showing us the deranged hallucinations, Van Hove is inviting us into the mass delusion.  Suddenly we have no measure for reality, for good or evil, and every character in this show is a reasonable person trying to make sense of an insane situation.

Ciaran Hinds, Jim Norton, Ben Whishaw, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Camp, Jason Butler Harner are some of my favorite actors. They are all in top form and what a delight to watch!  Plus, there are two moments of group movement that are nothing short of inspired.  I can’t wait to see what Mr. Van Hove has planned for us next.  My vote goes to THE TEMPEST… yours?

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