Author Topic: London Spy: Ben Whishaw, dreamy lover/genius Ed Holcroft and sage Jim Broadbent  (Read 168310 times)

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Photo Source: Matt Doyle


Interview
Remember
Ben Whishaw’s
Name
By Briana Rodriguez
Posted March 16, 2016, 11 a.m.



Ben Whishaw is competing to be heard over the hammering coming from the Walter Kerr Theatre’s orchestra level. Sitting in the mezzanine, he has to raise his typically subdued voice over the incessant banging as the tech crew finishes construction on the set for Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The stage decor, which director Ivo van Hove has very consciously had installed piecemeal alongside the play’s performances, is mirroring the cast’s progress; previews are eight days away and they’re five pages shy of the Tony-winning play’s grim culmination. It’ll be the first full run of Whishaw’s Broadway debut.

Playing protagonist John Proctor, the deeply religious but fallible outsider in a Puritanical community splintered by the Salem witch trials, Whishaw, under van Hove’s guidance, is approaching the production’s cornerstone role with an intuitive looseness. There are no heady discussions about the material and no table reads, just a strict five-hour-a-day rehearsal from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. alongside Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan, Tony winner Sophie Okonedo, Game of Thrones alum Ciarán Hinds, and the rest of the 15-actor ensemble.

For Whishaw, the rehearsal process has been an exercise in making discoveries in the moment and uncovering what the play “ought to be” in his respective space.

“Ivo encourages you to not be logical; he’ll say, ‘OK, so this moment you let rip. You push her up against the door and you scream at her, but in the next second you drop that and you’re calm and you’re rational,’ ” Whishaw explains with kinetic hand movements. “So he sort of gives you something, a sphere to play in, but it’s not psychological…. Because if you come at this play like, ‘I’m going to make this a coherent interpretation,’ you smooth it out, you iron out the weird contradictions and jumps.”

John’s termination of his illicit affair with young Abigail (Ronan) sets The Crucible in motion and triggers a vengeance plot with accusations of witchcraft flying at dozens of townspeople, including John’s wife, Elizabeth (Okonedo).

For Whishaw, who adamantly does not subscribe to a specific acting method (“No, I really, really don’t. No.”), the contradictions of Salem’s residents were his jumping-off point for the play, which is loosely based on the notorious 17th-century trials. Examining people who so deeply rely on each other for survival yet are killing each other over little more than needles and poppets—plus John’s belief that he’s a good Christian despite his sins—took precedence.






“It’s this thing [Ivo and I] talked briefly about, which is cognitive dissonance—when you have two things that are opposites. They can’t sit together, but nonetheless…” he explains. “One of the first things Ivo said to us was, ‘[The Crucible is about] people trying to be humane, but in their attempts to be humane they become inhumane.’ There’s a point they cross and they no longer know what they’re doing. And it does become about this sort of fundamentalist mindset that all of the characters are confined by, trapped in.”

Miller used the real-life trials as an allegory for the decades-long communist “witch hunt” that led to hundreds of artists, including the playwright himself, being blacklisted in show business from the late 1940s through the early ’60s. (The McCarthy era, as it’s known, was also the setting for last year’s Trumbo and the Coen brothers’ latest, Hail, Caesar.)

To pull the production into modern times, van Hove has taken it out of the Massachusetts backwoods and into an environment that, much like his previous Miller engagement, A View From the Bridge, strips away the world’s excess in a way that gives a new sheen to a familiar narrative.

Unlike in the 1996 film adaptation and countless theatrical productions, traditional Puritan clothing has been replaced with private school uniforms. A gray classroom with a chalkboard that runs nearly the full length of the back wall slowly fills with drawings and words written or scribbled by characters to symbolically chronicle the buildup to the three-hour play’s climax. And the lighting (by set designer Jan Versweyveld), which oscillates between chilly, hospital white and warm oranges, visually magnifies the ever-present score by Philip Glass.

Whishaw’s casting is yet another alteration to the play’s standard formula. Where the farmer has in the past been portrayed as a brute force, his rough edges are emotionally and physically softened by Whishaw’s vulnerability and wiry frame.






“When we first really met, he was greedy and hungry for inspiration,” van Hove says of his lead. “I must say, I’m really impressed. He’s there with his colleagues, he’s never selfish, never egocentric. He really wants to tell a story together with everybody and that was already there the first moment I saw him. He’s tender and sweet and at the same time a strong man, which is perfect for John.”

It’s a New Age interpretation of The Crucible: “These tribal factions and frictions and bullying and accusations and forcing conformity on people,” as Whishaw explains it. “Working with Ivo, it seems like a completely different play again.”

What makes Whishaw an atypical leading man is this inclination to deflect the attention away from himself and onto those around him. And this same ability to seemingly remove himself from the equation is what makes him so compelling to watch as an actor.

In interviews he pauses often, as if to weigh each word and be sure he means what he says, but onstage, he embodies immediate conviction. He moves with purpose and articulates complex emotions about Abigail, his peers, and Elizabeth with little more than a twitch of his fingers.

His particular style has revealed new layers to Hamlet during his performance at the Old Vic, to Bob Dylan in the indie film I’m Not There, to the serial killer Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in Perfume, and more recently to stubborn husband Sonny Watts in Suffragette and to Danny on the BBC1[nope, BBC2!] thriller miniseries London Spy. But the true mark of both his range and his intangible allure seeping further into the mainstream was his casting as Q in the Bond films Spectre and Skyfall, and the upcoming A Hologram for a King, opposite Tom Hanks. His varying characters make clear he slips easily into someone else’s skin.

When asked how he found John Proctor (he says it wasn’t a physical discovery of a walk or specific vocalization like other roles he’s played), he points to van Hove and to the high school drama teacher who first guided him in the role at age 15. He mentions a book of mug shots he found in a West Village shop: “They’ve just got this sort of stripped-down quality,” he says of the men. “They’re very pure. Startled, like they’ve been caught.” He praises his co-star, saying, “Sophie does this brilliant thing where she’ll go, ‘Can we just sit down and paraphrase this scene, ’cause I don’t understand?’ ” And Miller for creating someone so surprisingly familiar.






“It’s something I feel in my own life,” he says, “John’s frustration, you know? I think that’s something Miller writes a lot about, having this social face and then a private self. Maybe everyone feels that, but as an actor you feel that in a sort of strange, intense way because you’re in public.” He pauses with his head in his hand. Sitting up, he says, “I wish I were… I had more courage to be more outspoken about certain things, or feel less need to conform to certain things. It’s bizarre, these kinds of pressures that inform your life, your behavior. Sometimes you look at them coldly and think, What am I doing? But nonetheless, it’s deeply ingrained.”

The pressure to be an open book with his personal life is something Whishaw has avoided. Anonymity is key, he’s said in past interviews. “As an actor, your job is to persuade people that you’re someone else. So if you’re constantly telling people about yourself, I think you’re shooting yourself in the foot.”

It goes hand in hand with his aversion to the pursuit of fame over compelling art. “I think there can be an awful, heavy pressure to look a certain way, or be a certain thing,” he says. “Or fame. You could think that that’s what’s important when it’s not, really—at least it’s not for me, and it isn’t for most people I admire.”

But celebrity, whether sought or not, is a mercurial byproduct of such immense talent. If Whishaw’s current record of stage, television, and film roles are anything to go by, it’s a march toward the inevitable.


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Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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THECRUCIBLEINTERVIEWBEN WHISHAW










[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d1o8QIZeb4[/youtube]
Published on Mar 21, 2016
Broadway.com





[youtube=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjySeOELzQA[/youtube]
Published on Mar 21, 2016






« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 05:56:08 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
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Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
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Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Saoirse Ronan
and
Ben Whishaw
Bring New Dimension
to The Crucible
by ADAM GREEN
MARCH 31, 2016 6:00 AM


Ben Whishaw in a Gucci coat and Saoirse Ronan
in a Carolina Herrera dress.

Photographed by Mel Bles, Vogue, April 2016


Ben Whishaw and Saoirse Ronan play foes and former lovers in Ivo van Hove’s Broadway revival of The Crucible.


If you are in the market for revelatory—and pulse-quickening—productions of plays that you thought you knew all too well, then the Belgian director Ivo van Hove is your man. On the heels of his devastating staging of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, van Hove returns to Broadway this month with his take on The Crucible, Miller’s thinly veiled allegory about the 1950s Communist witch hunts, set against the actual 1690s Salem witch hunts, featuring music by Philip Glass and an A-plus cast led by Ben Whishaw and, making her professional stage debut, Saoirse Ronan.

After an early Crucible rehearsal, I catch up with Whishaw and Ronan. Perhaps best known for his role in the BBC’s fifties-set newsroom show The Hour, the 35-year-old British actor had an action-packed fall, with roles in Spectre, The Danish Girl, and the television series London Spy. But like a lot of British actors of his generation, Whishaw got his start on the stage, with a breakout performance as Hamlet in Trevor Nunn’s 2004 production at the Old Vic, and most recently appeared in the West End’s Peter and Alice, opposite Dame Judi Dench. As it happens, he first took on the role of the flawed but morally courageous John Proctor in a school production when he was fifteen. “It’s a play that schoolchildren understand, somehow, because it’s about a microcosm, isn’t it?” says Whishaw, sporting a ploughman’s beard for the role. “And people ganging up and bullying and hysteria.” Although he went against physical type in casting the slight Whishaw—Broadway’s last John Proctor was Liam Neeson—van Hove was more interested in the actor’s ability to bring many dimensions to the character: “You feel that there’s a secret world in his mind, in his body, and you never know where he will go.”

As Abigail Williams, a vindictive seventeen-year-old who destroys lives with her false accusations, Ronan is revisiting territory she explored in her Oscar-nominated breakthrough in Atonement as Briony, a vindictive thirteen-year-old who destroys lives with her false accusations. Coming off her nuanced (and also Oscar-nominated) portrayal of an Irish immigrant torn between two suitors in Brooklyn, the 21-year-old Ronan is looking forward to “the commitment and the stamina” required by the stage. When we first meet Abigail, it’s been seven months since she was thrown out of Proctor’s house, where she had been a servant, because his wife, Elizabeth (Sophie Okonedo), discovered that they’d been having an affair. “He’d taught her everything she knows about the world, made her feel for the first time important for who she was,” Ronan says. “And I think she wants to feel powerful and needed the way she did with him.”

Adultery, sorcery, mob hysteria: van Hove, who has a gift for making plays feel both timeless and uncannily of the moment, believes that audiences will find all kinds of ways into Miller’s material: “I think this play perhaps works even better now that it can be liberated from the McCarthy era—it speaks more about ourselves these days than perhaps we’d like to admit.”

Sittings Editor: Sonny Groo
Hair: Teiji Utsumi; Makeup: Florrie White







Quote

Saoirse Ronan
Goes From Child Star
to Grown-Up in
Brooklyn
by PATRICIA GARCIA
OCTOBER 30, 2015 12:47 PM


Photographed by Angelo Pennetta, Vogue, March 2014



At 21, Saoirse Ronan already has the sort of enviable career many actors spend decades trying to achieve. Her first major role, in Atonement, earned her an Oscar nomination when she was only 13 years old. Instead of going down a perilous child-actor path, Ronan went on to build an impressive body of work, collaborating alongside directors like Peter Jackson and Wes Anderson, and next year she’s even tackling Chekhov in the upcoming film adaptation of The Seagull.

Yet one could argue her latest film, Brooklyn, based on the Colm Tóibín novel of the same name, will reintroduce audiences to a decidedly grown-up Saoirse Ronan. (In case you’re wondering, her name is pronounced Seer-sha, like inertia.) Directed by John Crowley, Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis, a young Irish woman who immigrates to New York in the ’50s. At first, Eilis struggles to adapt to a life in America, but that all changes after she falls in love with a young Italian boy (played by the charming Emory Cohen), and later is torn between staying in her newfound home or returning to the country she once pined for so deeply.

Ronan shares a very similar story to her on-screen character. She was born in New York to immigrant parents, who moved to the United States after a major recession hit Ireland in the ’80s. Her family eventually returned when Ronan was 3 years old, and despite growing up there, the actress always felt a strong connection to her birthplace. “To read something like this that is made up of the two places that essentially are in my DNA, it just felt perfect,” Ronan explained by phone from Los Angeles this week. “Brooklyn [and I] had both kind of been waiting for each other.”

When she was 19, Ronan decided to move to London by herself. And while she had the benefit of Skype and email to keep in touch, Ronan still felt deeply homesick during her time in England. “I really missed the people. I think we actually take for granted how friendly we are,” she said. “I also missed my mammy’s food.” A few months into her newfound independence, she started filming Brooklyn and was surprised at how much Eilis’s journey mirrored her own offscreen coming-of-age.  “I had never had that before, where emotionally I was in the same place as somebody I was playing,” she said. “I guess it just kind of meant that there was nowhere to hide, so that made it all the more terrifying to do.”

Ronan had always planned for London to be a stepping-stone before moving to her dream city. “For me, I always wanted to end up in New York,” she said. “I had such a strong connection to the city straightaway. I instantly connected with it and loved it and got so much of a buzz from when I visited, and even still do.” She will finally be moving to the West Village in January, and the following month she’ll begin rehearsing for her Broadway debut as Abigail Williams in The Crucible. “I’m petrified,” she said with a nervous laugh. As of now, the Arthur Miller revival has a number of high-profile names attached to it: Scott Rudin is producing, Ben Whishaw and Sophie Okonedo will play John and Elizabeth Proctor, Tavi Gevinson will take on the role of Mary Warren, and Philip Glass will provide the score.

While Ronan has almost 20 movies under her belt, Brooklyn is the first one in which she had the chance to speak in an Irish accent. Although, as she explains, her Dublin one is different from “the more country accent” she used for Eilis. “I actually find that accents really help me to get into the mind-set of the character,” she said. “It’s the very first thing I think about when I take on a role. I’m already thinking about what [Abigail’s] voice should sound like.” As of now, she has no idea what she’s going to sound like onstage, so she’s thinking of watching the 1996 film adaptation of The Crucible, starring Winona Ryder and Daniel Day-Lewis, for some pointers. “I would hate to just do a modern American,” she added, before seamlessly transitioning into California-girl uptalk: “I’m a witch . . . Shut up!”

Brooklyn, which first premiered at Sundance to rave reviews, has already attracted Oscar buzz, most of which is focused on Ronan’s performance. “I grew up an awful lot. I could actually see it happening,” she said. “To have to completely rely on yourself and be self-dependent is the only way you’ll ever truly let go of childhood. It’s scary and it feels like shit and I hate being a grown-up most days,” Ronan continued, “but it’s almost like your body needs to go into shock for a while in order for you to overcome it and change from it.”

So what does Ronan make of all the talk of a potential Oscar nomination this time around? “I’m not going to lie, it really means a lot, because the film means so much to me,” she said. “I’ve been working for the last 10, 11 years. My approach to work means so much more now.” The significance of attending the Oscars has also changed for her. Back in 2007, the then-preteen was unfazed by the whole experience. Instead of remembering red carpets and movie stars, Ronan best recalls how hungry she was by the ceremony’s end. “I sat there for three hours and nobody fed us!” she laughed. “Jon Stewart came around with a big bucket of licorice and he fed everyone at the interval. It was probably the best part of the Oscars.”



« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 02:34:22 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
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Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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This is a production that can feel somewhat cluttered, which is a strange thing for a van Hove show. But there's no denying it is a brilliant debut for Whishaw. He has magic in spades.





http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/review-ben-whishaw-bewitchingly-good-crucible-38070171



Ben Whishaw
Is Bewitchingly Good
in The Crucible
By MARK KENNEDY
AP DRAMA WRITER NEW YORK
Mar 31, 2016, 8:03 PM ET



Posters for the new Broadway revival of The Crucible feature a photo of Saoirse Ronan, looking absolutely witchy as Abigail Williams. She's awfully good in it, but the real sorcery is delivered by Ben Whishaw.

The English actor is astounding in Arthur Miller's classic tale about the Salem witch trials. He plays doomed farmer John Proctor and holds nothing back, going from slightly arrogant to flustered to full-out broken over the course of the play, a master stroke by a 35-year-old making his Broadway debut.

The revival, which opened Thursday at the Walter Kerr Theatre with Dutch visionary director Ivo van Hove at the wheel, is more uneven, lacking the singular, brilliant focus of van Hove's earlier revival this season of Miller's A View From the Bridge.

Van Hove has stripped the play down and made cuts, but he's not removed most props this time. Or shoes. The action takes place in a modern but indeterminate time, with sober, black and white costumes by Wojciech Dziedzic that would look fine in the winter J. Crew catalog. The young women are dressed like schoolgirls, with gray skirts and socks.

The setting is a charmless school room with a blackboard, heavy chairs and harsh fluorescent lights, which also serves as the courtroom and Proctor's home. Old items — a boiling black pot that looks like it was swiped from a production of Macbeth — share the stage with modern coffee carafes and stirrers you'd find at any office. Philip Glass added to a soundscape that goes from choir voices to industrial hums to gentle violin music.

Ronan and Whishaw lead a cast that also includes a wonderful Sophie Okonedo as Proctor's wife, Ciaran Hinds as a truly fearsome deputy governor, Tavi Gevinson as a slippery Mary Warren, Jason Butler Harner as an unyielding reverend and Jim Norton as a feisty elderly farmer. Bill Camp is truly excellent as a church leader who, much too late, realizes what his fire-and-brimstone approach has wreaked.

Van Hove's stripped-down approach does starkly illuminate the paranoia and descent into madness as a small town turns on itself. But the director also seems to put his thumb on the side of sorcery, with a scene of a girl hovering in the air, storms crashing through windows and that blackboard brilliantly turning into a projection screen for swirling otherworldly symbols.

It's a curious step for a play written to expose the hollowness of the witch-hunting McCarthy era. If there is indeed witchyness afoot in Salem — and not just gossip or self-interested accusations — it seems to undercut those heading to the gallows for honor's sake.

Other showy touches include over-the-top makeup that turns the Proctors into looking like half-dead zombies at the end, and a dog that resembles a wolf appearing at the top of Act Three. At one preview, the hound clearly followed a trail of treats but then stood center stage, paused and seemed to peer into the audience, questioningly. (It was a performance better than those delivered by actors in some of the smaller roles.)

This is a production that can feel somewhat cluttered, which is a strange thing for a van Hove show. But there's no denying it is a brilliant debut for Whishaw. He has magic in spades.



Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/01/theater/review-in-arthur-millers-crucible-first-they-came-for-the-witches.html


In Arthur Miller’s
Crucible
First They Came for
the Witches
By BEN BRANTLEY
MARCH 31, 2016


From left, Elizabeth Teeter, Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, Saoirse Ronan (foreground) and Erin Wilhelmi in
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at the Walter Kerr Theater. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times



The Devil has returned to Broadway, with the power to make the strong tremble. It is time to be afraid, very afraid, of a play that seemed perhaps merely worthy when you studied it in high school English class.

The director Ivo van Hove and a dazzling international cast — led by Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo, Saoirse Ronan and Ciaran Hinds — have plumbed the raw terror in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which opened on Thursday night at the Walter Kerr Theater. And an endlessly revived historical drama from 1953 suddenly feels like the freshest, scariest play in town.

That its arrival also feels perfectly timed in this presidential election year, when politicians traffic in fears of outsiders and otherness, is less surprising. Miller’s portrait of murderous mass hysteria during the 17th-century Salem witch trials was written to echo the “Red menace” hearings in Washington in the 1950s.

Parallels between Miller’s then and latter-day nows have never been hard to reach for. What makes Mr. van Hove’s interpretation so unsettlingly vivid has little to do with literal-minded topicality.

Instead, following a formula that has proved golden for him in recent seasons, Mr. van Hove divests a historical work of period associations, the better to see its inhabitants as timelessly tragic and as close to you and me as the people in the seats next to us — or, if we’re honest, as our fallible selves. And more than any of the many “Crucibles” I’ve seen, this one insists that we identify with not only the victims of persecution but also with those who would judge them.

We are made to see what the terrified residents of Salem think they see, in visions formed from a collective, paranoid fever dream. In rendering these effects, Mr. van Hove and his astonishing set and lighting designer, Jan Versweyveld, borrow freely from the imagery of horror movies. Then there’s Philip Glass’s icy, rhythmic music, which seems to emanate not from the stage but from your own rushing pulse.





Ben Whishaw, left, as the farmer John Proctor, and Sophie Okonedo as his wife, Elizabeth, in
The Crucible. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times



There is no hint of shabby desperation in these effects, of the sense of a spook house jerry-built over a well-worn drama. As in his recent masterly reimagining of another Miller classic, A View From the Bridge, Mr. van Hove is aiming for a scalding transparency. It is the kind of openness that lets us see the divided soul beneath the skin and, in The Crucible, what one character describes as “the wheels within wheels of this village, and fires within fires.”

The impact of that “View,” which presented a Brooklyn longshoreman’s doomed family within the starkness of an ancient Greek amphitheater, was such that I feared that this “Crucible” would suffer by comparison. Then there was the matter of this production’s chic global casting.

The changeling beauty of Ms. Ronan, fresh from her Academy Award nomination for Brooklyn, made sense for the diabolical teenager Abigail. (And, yes, she’s absolutely smashing in the part.) But that willowy, sensitive plant Ben Whishaw as the strapping, rough-hewed farmer John Proctor? Really?

But Mr. van Hove knew exactly what he was doing here. All the members of his large ensemble find revealing new shapes within archetypes and insist that we grasp and even sympathize with their characters’ perspectives.

There are other forms of magic afoot, as Mr. Versweyveld’s single set seamlessly becomes everything the script says it must be. As first seen, occupied by straight-backed, chanting girls at their desks in a fleeting, imagistic prologue, this would appear to be a contemporary schoolroom of a dreary institutional nature.

You could imagine it doing duty for civic events, such as a town hall forum or a local election. Those who gather here match the walls in their drab, functional clothing (designed by Wojciech Dziedzic). A chalkboard — over which is scrawled a prayer encouraging good will to men — occupies upstage center. And without giving too much away, let me urge you to watch that space. (The uncanny video projections are by Tal Yarden.)

The play’s unwitting catalyst is Mr. Whishaw’s John, whose sexual encounter with a young servant, Abigail, has left her determined to claim him for herself. She gathers a group of other girls in the forest to invoke the powers of darkness against John’s wife, Elizabeth (Ms. Okonedo). These would-be witches for a night are spotted by Abigail’s uncle, the Rev. Samuel Parris (a marvelously soggy-spined Jason Butler Harner), setting off a chain of accusations that results in scores of deaths.





From left, Teagle F. Bougere, Saoirse Ronan (seated), Jason Butler Harner, Ciaran Hinds,
Ben Whishaw
and Tavi Gevinson in a scene from the play. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times



John Proctor has often been portrayed (by the likes of Liam Neeson and Daniel Day-Lewis) as a stalwart Gary Cooper type, and part of the tragedy in that context is seeing a big man brought to his knees. The slighter-framed Mr. Whishaw looks more vulnerable, and we fear for his safety from the beginning, not least because his cardinal virtue appears to be his sanity, and the sane rarely flourish in a world gone mad.

Ms. Okonedo, who brings a welcome earthiness to the role of Elizabeth, exudes a similar spirit of common-sense humanity. But living far from the town on their farm, they are unaware of the madness that is taking over Salem. When an officer of the court comes to arrest Elizabeth, they have the incredulity of people caught unawares by a tide of history that they simply can’t believe could happen in the world they know. Nazi Germany comes to mind. Certain pundits might even think of the United States today.

Feasible sexual chemistry onstage is fairly common; the bonds of a quieter, deeper-reaching love, less so. It’s that connection that Mr. Whishaw and Ms. Okonedo so beautifully embody here, and it ennobles their characters as much as their moral stances. When we see them in their last meeting, broken by incarceration and fearful of hurting each other by embracing, the heart shatters.

One of the miracles of this “Crucible,” though, is its success in presenting all those onstage as all too human and all too hungry to see themselves as good people. It’s their self-protecting, self-deluding rationalizations that conjure the devils of distrust that rip a social fabric to shreds.

If I had space, I would single out every one in the cast. But allow me to mention the scheming, petty burghers of Thomas Jay Ryan and Tina Benko; the anxious, spiritually challenged man of the cloth portrayed by Bill Camp; Tavi Gevinson’s malleable, craven and poignantly credible serving girl; Jim Norton’s folksy and unexpectedly heroic farmer; and the suave, snarling hanging judge given such unassailably authoritative life by Mr. Hinds.

In the end, everybody loses, and everybody suffers, with one blazing exception. That’s Abigail, the girl who cries “witch” and who, as Ms. Ronan so beguilingly plays her, has the power to become alternately invisible and radiant with focused intent.

The Crucible has a diverse and spectacular assortment of moments that make the flesh creep. But there’s nothing quite as scary as the sight of Ms. Ronan’s Abigail, seated stock still in a chair, bending a vulnerable girl to her will with the force of a malevolent stare.
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Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
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Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Ben Whishaw seems unconventional casting for John, a role often played by older, brawnier types — But the actor brings stirring truth to Proctor's fatal progression from a man already somewhat suspicious of doctrinaire thinking and its cowering followers to one who openly condemns the blind religious and legal zealotry that have ripped apart his community. He holds nothing back in the play's harrowing final emotional crescendo, a scorching indictment of fear mongering and its cost to individual freedom.




http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/saoirse-ronan-crucible-theater-review-879646


The Crucible
Theater Review
Saoirse Ronan leads the accusers in this revival of Arthur Miller's morality play
about the Salem witch trials, with Ben Whishaw and Sophie Okonedo as John
and Elizabeth Proctor.


The Bottom Line:
Searing performances make the hysteria frighteningly real.


by David Rooney
5:00 PM PDT 3/31/2016


Elizabeth Teeter, Saoirse Ronan and Tavi Gevinson in The Crucible
Jan Versweyveld




After enlivening the downtown theater scene for years with his iconoclastic takes on classic texts, Ivo van Hove continues his bracing entry into the Broadway arena with his second production of an Arthur Miller drama. While The Crucible is a very different play from A View From the Bridge, which the Belgian avant-garde director staged to ecstatic acclaim earlier in the season, the two works can also be seen as companion-piece tragedies. Both end with an accused man's wrenching refusal to be stripped of his name. However, in The Crucible, that man's innocence of the crimes with which he is charged adds blistering heat to the corruption of power that Miller so vehemently targeted.

Van Hove knows how to channel that heat. Almost operatic in their intensity, his productions are designed to leave audiences agitated and uncomfortable, which is notably the case with this distressing 1953 drama, with its steadily amplified sense of horror and indignation.

Like the director's View From the Bridge, the mesmerizingly acted new production trades the play's specific period and milieu — the witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 — for a pared-down look and non-naturalistic, indeterminate setting. Wojciech Dziedzic's utilitarian costumes and Jan Versweyveld's single set, a vast, high-ceilinged schoolroom, suggest the 1950s. But the intention appears not to evoke Miller's allegorical subject, the McCarthy scourge, when citizens were coerced to name suspected Communist sympathizers, ruining lives and careers. Nor does van Hove seem interested in underlining contemporary parallels in an election year in which one of the leading candidates has fueled support by trading on fear and hostility.

Instead, the production presents a chilling account of the institutional arrogance and ignorance that are a threat to civil liberties in any age, particularly when the dividing lines separating politics, religion and the judiciary become blurred. Episodes of mob-mentality recklessness and its consequences are present throughout history, and Miller's cautionary tale remains a trenchant illustration of the dangers of demagogic leadership destroying a community by disseminating distrust and paranoia.

The face of this production is Saoirse Ronan, icy and commanding in her first stage appearance. She follows her breakout film work as the timid Irish girl who blossoms so tenderly to self-possessed maturity in Brooklyn with a sharp pivot to simmering resentment and reflexive cruelty that erupt out of sexual, religious and class repression. Her Abigail Williams in fact could almost be an older version of one of Ronan's earliest screen roles, the vicious little minx in Atonement. Her accusing finger is what sets the accelerating hysteria in motion to the point where nobody is safe. And when it comes vengefully to rest on the blameless Elizabeth Proctor (Sophie Okonedo), who dismissed Abigail after the servant girl had sex in the barn with her guilt-ridden husband John (Ben Whishaw), the fury of the inquisition is multiplied.

The production opens with a brief curtain-up on the girls singing a prayer while seated facing a rear-wall blackboard on which the Puritan text, "The Dutiful Child’s Promise," is written in chalk. Their piety thus inferred, we then witness their gullibility as Abigail, the natural leader, grasps to cover up the reasons why they were found dancing in the woods. Ronan's steely calculation is beautifully contrasted by the guilelessness of Mary Warren, the innately good, not terribly bright girl who tries to speak out about their dangerous make-believe tricks. She's played with affecting openness by Tavi Gevinson, who continues to emerge as a remarkably instinctive actor after last season's This is Our Youth.





Sophie Okonedo and Ben Whishaw in The Crucible



One element of the production that no doubt will be divisive is van Hove's decision to visualize the supernatural manifestations that the girls succeed in conjuring in the fertile imagination of a populace primed for hellfire. While many productions have staged the unscripted nocturnal frolic that causes the trouble, van Hove skips it. But he includes levitation, a prowling wolf and electrifying scenes of the group's feigned trances. Those interludes are choreographed as convulsive ballets by Steven Hoggett, accompanied by jittery animation that spreads across the blackboard. The intention is clearly not to show that the witchcraft is real, but that the power of suggestion has made it so, for the girls as well as the onlookers.

Van Hove observes the careful mechanisms of Miller's construction, with a first act that expertly defines the various townsfolk and their roles in the gathering calamity. There are incisive performances from Jason Butler Harner as Abigail's uncle, the slippery Rev. Samuel Parris, eager to steer the suspicion of witchery away from his afflicted daughter; Tina Benko and Thomas Jay Ryan as Ann and Thomas Putnam, loathsome alarmists who feed the panic; and Brenda Wehle, superb as Rebecca Nurse, a charitable pillar of the community who dismisses the adolescent girls' feverishness as the "silly season" she recognizes from her numerous children and grandchildren. The price she pays for her clear-sighted skepticism is as shattering as the fates of the Proctors.

Also on the victims' side of the uproar is the disputatious old farmer Giles Corey, played with fiery irascibility by the wonderful Jim Norton. The character with the most complex moral arc is Rev. John Hale, the learned religious authority brought in to oversee the proceedings. Bill Camp makes a strong impression in the part. Initially swallowing the fraudulent testimony of Abigail and her pawns, he's solemn and self-important, before realizing too late his role in sending innocent people to the gallows. There's no such awakening of conscience in Ciaran Hinds' imperious Deputy Governor Danforth, who sends a chill into the air from the moment he strides onto the stage, full of rigid certainty before he's even interrogated a witness.

Some will argue that Miller's already somewhat preachy, portentous text doesn't need any emphatic help, though the original score by Philip Glass — an almost wall-to-wall sonic carpeting of needling percussion, mournful chants and funereal strings — contributes to the production's ever-tightening noose. Also tremendously effective is Versweyveld's unforgiving lighting and Tom Gibbons' creepy sound, nowhere more so than in the startling stagecraft that blows the turmoil of Salem directly into the Proctors' farmhouse.

As strong as the ensemble is, the indispensable anchoring forces are Whishaw and Okonedo, both of them devastating. Miller wrote Elizabeth as a virtual saint, so it helps that Okonedo plays her early scenes with an almost brittle detachment. But the stoicism she exhibits through her suffering is heartbreaking, as is the pain behind her refusal to judge her compromised husband as he agonizes over whether to make a false confession and save himself.

Whishaw seems unconventional casting for John, a role often played by older, brawnier types — Liam Neeson, Iain Glen and Richard Armitage in recent stage productions; Daniel Day-Lewis onscreen. But the actor brings stirring truth to Proctor's fatal progression from a man already somewhat suspicious of doctrinaire thinking and its cowering followers to one who openly condemns the blind religious and legal zealotry that have ripped apart his community. He holds nothing back in the play's harrowing final emotional crescendo, a scorching indictment of fear mongering and its cost to individual freedom.



Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo, Ciaran Hinds, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Camp, Tavi Gevinson, Jason Butler Harner, Jim Norton, Tina Benko, Jenny Jules, Thomas Jay Ryan, Brenda Wehle, Teagle F. Bougere, Michael Braun, Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, Elizabeth Teeter, Ray Anthony Thomas, Erin Wilhelmi
Director: Ivo van Hove
Playwright: Arthur Miller
Set & lighting designer: Jan Versweyveld
Costume designer: Wojciech Dziedzic
Sound designer: Tim Gibbons
Video designer: Tal Yarden
Movement director: Steven Hoggett
Executive producers: Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson
Presented by Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Roger Berlind, William Berlind, Len Blavatnik, Roy Furman, Peter May, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Scott M. Delman, JFL Theatricals, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth, Jane Bergere, Sonia Friedman, Ruth Hendel, Stacey Mindich, Jon B. Platt, Megan Savage, Spring Sirkin, Tulchin Bartner Productions
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 08:41:42 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Ben Whishaw, Tavi Gevinson (foreground), Jason Butler Harner, Bill Camp, Jim Norton, Ciarán Hinds,
Teagle F. Bougere, and Ray Anthony Thomas (background)










« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 08:42:16 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Saoirse Ronan and Ben Whishaw play characters whose past affair informs a witch hunt
in the new Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.
(Photo: Robert Deutsch, USAT)





yours truly and the wee, lovely Ben Whishaw. March 21 2016
http://drinkbloodlikewine.tumblr.com/post/141254773016/yours-truly-and-the-wee-lovely-ben-whishaw




attoliancrown: Tonight I met Ben Whishaw. Words cannot describe how amazing it was to watch him act live. March 31 2016



 

unabellaavventura: Ben signing autographs.

MAR. 31 2016 VIA UNABELLAAVVENTURA 61 NOTES

https://www.tumblr.com/dashboard/blog/unabellaavventura/142011792598
http://nothingsweeterthanben.tumblr.com/
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 08:43:20 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"