By Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Directed by Vicki Wicks
Starring Christina Turngren, Ander Coggeshall, and Zuhair K. Ahmed
Winter Park, FL
Once the witch fever died down in Old Salem, Massachusetts, the survivors still went on living. The biggest accuser of the notional witches was Abigail Williams (Turngren); she fled to Boston and lived under an assumed name running a fever house that provided what little medical care that was available in 1700. Think leeches and onions and hopes for the Grace of God. One day a young man calling himself John Brown (Coggeshall) appears, infected with the pox. Abigale nurses him back to health, and he puts the moves on her while she speculates as to who he really might be. Eventually both truths are revealed, and we conclude even the most miserable liars deserve love.
There’s a strong element of supernatural here, The “Man In Gray” (Ahmed) wields supernatural power, but unlike a real Prince of Darkness, this being can be stopped by a simple plot device. But when he’s evil, he’s the best kind of evil: powerful, erotic, and hard to define. Ms. Turngren acts contrite yet proud, and even as she understands her own sins she still condemns others for lesser flaws. Mr. Coggeshall is lean, muscular, and domineering, and never really looks as sick as he claims. Like the companion piece “Afflicted” this is a dark rendering of the Colonial days in new England. While creepy, neither show aims for true fear or worse, true camp but shows us real humans populated this era and this travesty of justice. It’s a nice pair of holiday nail biters, executed with minimal tech but maximum effect.