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Leave it to Ivo van Hove to put the Devil back in the Salem witch trials. Before Arthur Miller’s “T...

‘The Crucible’ Broadway Review: Ben Whishaw, Saoirse Ronan Battle Forces of Evil

By 10:59:00

Leave it to Ivo van Hove to put the Devil back in the Salem witch trials. Before Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” opened on Broadway in 1953, some right-wingers (Mr. and Mrs. Elia Kazan among them) had already criticized the project for making a false comparison between the witch trials and Joe McCarthy’s persecution of suspected Communists.

Those conservatives charged that there were no witches in 17th-century Massachusetts, but there were Communists in 1950s America. Miller countered, saying that his critics were taking a contemporary view of Christianity. Back in 1693, not to believe in the existence of the Devil, hence witches, would have been heresy.

In van Hove’s new revival of “The Crucible,” which opened Thursday at the Walter Kerr Theatre, evil lurks in ways that it’s best for theatergoers to discover on their own and not in this review. What can be written is that van Hove knows how to put on a good old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone spectacle, and he makes us believe it.

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