Fury Theatre’s Abigail poses an interesting ‘what if’ by following Abigail Williams after the end of The Crucible but the play doesn’t quite follow through
“I was just a girl…”
Ever wondered what happened to Abigail Williams after the end of The Crucible? Writers Stephen Gillard and Laura Turner clearly did as their new play for Fury Theatre explores just that as we follow her and best pal Mercy Lewis as they flee the Salem Witch Trials and try to start a new life in an society so unforgiving towards young women.
Abigail certainly arrives with an intriguing concept. And its intentions in focusing on her as a person as opposed to the trials per se are certainly admirable. But it is hard not see a disconnect between not wanting to fully interrogate the actions that had so horrific and fatal an impact whilst exploring Abigail anew as a character. The result is a thematic generalisation which dulls the play’s edge.
Abigail and Mercy rock up in Boston looking for a fresh start but the boarding house in which they find themselves proves to be its own new crucible of malfeasance. And they get sucked into a world of sexual violence, the societal misogyny, racism and classist structures are magnified to an almost unbearable level. It is a boldly uncompromising take on life at that time but it does lack narrative propulsion and the promised contemporary resonance.
As a nod to the past, Abigail is haunted by the ghost of a woman she betrayed with her accusation. But there’s little substantive depth to her motivations throughout this play, there’s just a procession of grim events to endure and that proves challenging for all concerned. A young company show promise but there’s still work to be done to connect their intentions to their output.