by Christopher Fry
I read this one because it was mentioned by a character in Tam Lin and sparked my curiosity. I don\’t often read plays, it\’s quite a different format for me. This one was both fun and thoughtful. It\’s set during the witch-trial era of New England. The two main characters are a disillusioned ex-solider who wants to die – he claims to have killed two men and thus deserves to be hanged, but no one believes him. At the same time, there is a woman named Jennet accused of being a witch; the crimes stated against her are ridiculous but the townsfolk insist she is guilty. So the story is mostly a lot of talk and it all takes place in one room but in spite of that is quite interesting. The background characters never really change their stance of believing that Jennet is a witch and basically ignoring Thomas\’ desire for assistance to meet death. But through the conversations that occur the soldier realizes that he really does want to live and moreover he is now in love with Jennet, so together they flee the town. I liked the irony of the play, even though I had to read it rather slowly as the old-fashioned phrasing sometimes took me a moment to figure out. It\’s one I want to read again someday, or better yet, see performed in the theater.
Rating: 3/5 95 pages, 1948
Reading the End
I read it for the same reason as you, and I've reread it since then and loved it more each time. And I HAVE seen it performed (off off off Broadway, so not the world's best ever performance, but still), and I have a video of Kenneth Branagh doing it, I believe for a BBC television production in the 1990s. Sadly they had to cut a lot of the dialogue for time, but Kenneth Branagh is still darn good as Thomas.
This isn't what I thought it was…which was a Jacobean drama. So glad I'm wrong, and thanks for the review!
I'd love to see it performed live someday