The last performances of this famous Arthur Miller play are at 8:00 PM Saturday and 2:00 pm Sunday at the Toledo Repertoire Theater on Tenth St. in downtown Toledo. There is a guarded parking lot. This is really excellent community theater, and very educational.
This play about the Salem withcraft trials is a powerful story. Whenever I heard about Salem and "witch-hunts," I assumed that the religious people were going to come off looking really bad, killing people who were irreligious, "odd" or slightly "occultic."
In fact, it is the genuine Christian people who are martyred for their faith because they will not lie and say they are witches. They are accused by teen girls who pretend to be influenced by these so-called witches. The young girls wanted to avoid punishment for their occultic activities of dancing nude in the woods around a pot of some bubbling brew (not in the play), and trying to conjure up the spirits of the dead with the help of the minister's voodoo-savvy slave from Barbados. The minister's daughter and niece are involved. The minister catches them and one of the girl's quickly inspires mass hysteria among her friends --and they all pretend to be possessed because of the good women in the town whom they name as witches. (or maybe they really WERE possessed because of their own occultic activity! A couple of them did seem to faint or be in a deep sleep and their body temp would cool. Why would that be? We assume there is a motivation to play-act and carry on their mystical experience from the woods --and also protect themselves from charges of witchcraft by blaming others.
The leader of the girls "called out" the wife of a farmer as a witch (the farmer, John Proctor, is the lead character, played well by Heath Huber) She does this because she had a brief affair with the farmer and wants him for herself.
IN the end, the Christians will not lie to save their skins by saying they have served the devil. Death is their sentence.
The judge is the devil personified and played extremely well by a Mr. Byrd. Ultimately, the ministers in the story come around and regret that the teens were believed and responsible for death warrants for so many people. They and the judge want the prisoners to admit their alliances with the devil so they can reverse the death sentences and be justified in the minds of the public --but the Christians will not confess to the lie.
It is sinful girls involved in witchy activities who accuse the good women of the town; it is hypocrites in power who are willing to believe the teens; it is genuine Christians who die, falsely accused.
John Proctor is a man wracked by guilt for his short-lived adultery --and his wife comes to realize that she hadn't believed in his love for her because she was a plain woman, by her self-evaluation. It's sad that her revelation had not come sooner. They come to a place of mutual forgiveness and John Proctor feels worthy of martyrdom in the end.
"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible