American playwright Arthur Miller famously dramatized the Salem witch trials — and the McCarthy era —with his play “The Crucible.” And now Aurora Theatre is picking up the story ten years after Miller’s play ends. The theatre is staging Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's sequel, "Abigail/1720."
The story follows Abigail Williams, played by Diany Rodriguez, the woman whose testimony fueled the witch trials and lead to the hanging of 19 people in Salem. Ten years later, she has fled to Boston where she is hiding from her past and attempting to atone for her transgressions.
"She's in a what seems to be a nice little corner of the world where she's devoid of human contact," Rodriguez told City Lights host Lois Reitzes, "apart from some [smallpox] patients that she treats. She says that she lives under Cain's curse."
Where Miller's "Crucible" was a parable for a contentious time in the politics of his era, director Justin Anderson says there is no immediate parallel to current events underpinning the action of "Abigail/1702," though there are larger themes at play.
"The need for forgiveness is something that never goes out of vogue," he said. "We live in a much more public way, perhaps, than we have ever in history. Our lives are splashed across social media. If it's on the internet, it's never going away. So it's curious to me to wrestle with that idea of indiscretions or mistakes; is is possible to reinvent yourself?"
One difference between Miller's "Crucible" and "Abigail" is the existence of the devil, which is only alluded to in the original play.
"The devil is real in this play," Anderson says, "and that's a new exploration, that evil is manifest in some form, which is really kind of creepy and wonderful to work with."
"Abigail/1702" runs at Aurora Theatre Sept. 21 through Oct. 15.