Abigail/1702 examines
Crucible ten years later

This excellent production opens where the story of the 1692 Salem witch trials left off

By Byron Toben

Sequels, while common in Film and TV are rare on the stage.

Sophocles mined the story of Oedipus for several plays, Aeschylus that of Orestes and Shakespeare those of the rulers of England. In modern times, Neil Simon wrote his Eugene trilogy. All these were follow-ups by the original authors.

Abigail/1702 - WestmountMag.caRarer are successful sequels of classic works by playwrights other than the original.

One that comes to mind is Bunbury, which imagines how the two lovey-dovey marriages ending Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest fare twenty years later (not so good).

Recently, Doll House Part 2, projects Ibsen’s Nora ten years into the future after leaving her husband (also not so good).

Ibsen fan G. Bernard Shaw wrote, somewhere buried in my slush pile, that Anna Freud (Sigmund’s daughter) also wrote a (possibly un-produced) play script for a Doll House follow-up as well.

Sophocles mined the story of Oedipus for several plays, Aeschylus that of Orestes and Shakespeare those of the rulers of England. In modern times, Neil Simon wrote his Eugene trilogy. All these were follow-ups by the original authors.

Now comes Robert Aguirre-Sacasa with his take on a key figure in Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible ten years later, in Abigail /1702: A Twice Told Tale.

This excellent production opens where the story of the 1692 Salem witch trials left off. The false accuser, 15-year-old Abigail Williams (McGill grad Eleonora Lamothe) steals the life savings of her uncle, Rev. Parris (deep voiced Clive Brewer) and disappears to another town. Unable to find work, she is advised by Judge Sewall (also Mr Brewer) to contact a senior lady, Margaret Hale (Tamara Richards) who operates a house aiding the sickly.

Abigail/1702 - WestmountMag.caShe eventually inherits the house and hopes to redeem herself for her false accusations and her pledge to Satan. She acts as a surrogate guardian to a young orphan boy, Thomas, (Thomas Winston Martin) and reluctantly takes in a wanderer suffering from the plague, John Brown (Dawson grad Anton May).

Her leech therapy works (no blood sucking worms were harmed in this show).

She seeks forgiveness from Elisabeth Proctor (again Ms Richards), the widow of John Proctor, one of the 19 persons hanged as witches by her testimony and fears a descent into Hell with a mysterious Man in Grey (Dawson grad Nils Svensson Carell). Will her good deeds save her? You have to see the cliffhanging ending to find out.

Abigail/1702 - WestmountMag.caAll is ably directed, as usual by Christopher Moore.

Mr Miller, as is well known, wrote The Crucible as a stand in for the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, wherein do gooders of all stripes were branded as evil communists (commies, witches, what’s the difference?)

As a big Miller fan, I am sure he would have approved of this sequel. We welcome reader responses listing other stage sequels by third parties.

Abigail/1702 continues until October 28 at Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire.

514 875-4031 or persephoneproductions.org

Images: Alex Goldrich

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Read also: A Bintel Brief captures the panorama of a bygone era

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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