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The Theatreguide.London Review

The Good John Proctor
Jermyn Street Theatre       January 2024

Talene Monahonís play The Good John Proctor looks at four characters during the year before they were bullied into cooperating with the Salem institutional witch-hunt of 1692, as depicted in Arthur Millerís play The Crucible.

Abigail Williams (Anna Fordham), almost twelve, and the ten-year-old Betty Parris (Sabrina Wu) play childrenís games, swap local gossip and imagine doing something more adventurous such as sailing a boat or visiting the forest.

Unfortunately, they live in a repressive community thatís even ready to punish them for wandering into the forest. They recall being whipped for playing with the goat Abraham, and one of them claims Giles Corey (a heroic figure in The Crucible) killed a servant over the issue of an apple.

It is no surprise that Abi welcomes the chance of working for John Proctor, whom she describes in positive, naive terms.

Being innocent, they panic when one night Abi bleeds from her first period. However, the more worldly Mercy Lewis (Amber Sylvia Edwards) explains that a regular period is normal for women.

The arrival to the area of the eighteen-year-old Mary Warren (Lydia Larson) adds a touch of mysticism to their conversations and at one point frightens the others as Mary falls into a shaking fit.

Apart from emphasising the girls' playful innocence, this show never seems to be heading anywhere in particular, and that can make it seem very long.

There is also the distracting mix of an imagined period style of speaking such as the line 'Call me Betty I pray you' with very modern swearing such as 'What the fuck' and 'shit' that would seem very unlikely in puritanical Salem.

Ultimately the injustice suffered by the women and men of Salem 1692, and the dramatic use Miller makes of it, seem very remote from the gentle story told in Talene Monahonís play

Keith McKenna

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Review of The Good John Proctor - Jermyn Street  Theatre 2024

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