Just as John Milton’s Paradise Lost subverted the traditional take on the Fall of Man, and showed his own unconscious sympathies as a challenger of authority and the status quo, Sasha Wilson’s Call Me Fury turns Arthur Miller’s The Crucible on its head and using historical records as reference, conveys the true story of Salem, Massachusetts. With direction by Hannah Hauer-King and material further devised by the Out Of The Forest theatre company, Call Me Fury from the start wears its heart on its sleeve.
As people takes to their seats, the talented cast who are playing violins and other musical instruments settle the audience into the mood and ambience of the show. While all the cast ‘break the fourth wall’ at some point or other, it is Sasha Wilson who does so the most, addressing the audience and often pointing out the difference between ‘Miller’s tale’, historical records and giving a modern context to the proceedings.
Initially drawing attention to the dramatic licence used in The Crucible such as changing the age of characters like Abigail Williams, Call Me Fury shifts its focus from the former protagonist John Proctor to the women of the play – in particular the girls at the centre of the accusations.
Addressing the real reasons for the paranoia and the climate, we see an overlapping set of circumstances that created a ‘perfect storm’. At the centre of this, a growing resentment within Salem between those who live comfortably and are an accepted part of the community, and those who aren’t. Coupled with this is the assimilated fear and ‘beliefs’ of the ‘hypereligious’, with everyone tuning into the rhetoric or ‘buzzwords’ that guarantee hysteria and misdirection.
Other plays in the past such as Jane Wenham’s The Witch of Walken and Timothy N. Evers The Witch’s Mark have touched upon the danger that women who were ‘in tune’ with nature found themselves in – their free spirits and self-reliance a ‘frightening concept’, and their ‘acquired’ knowledge from outside the remit of men surely the purveyance of ‘witches’… Wilson also covers the true nature of ‘witches’, but rather than just talking about their historical context, through her deft writing she jolts the audience from its preconceived ideas about the 17th century hysteria and alerts it to its contemporary relevance.
There aren’t many plays that are so original with their ideas or so naked with their intent, but Call Me Fury has attitude and conviction in abundance. Tapping into the anger and creative wellspring that made Morgan Lloyd Malcom’s Emilia a success with critics and audiences, Call Me Fury juggles the meta- aspect of the material with the dexterity of a Bryony Kimmings show.
© Michael Davis 2019
Call Me Fury runs at the Hope Theatre until 5th October.