"Abigail/1702" Synopsis


Plot points may be revealed below.

In deep night, a young woman flees through the woods, pursued by a terrifying voice: “You danced for me,” it bellows. “Wherever you run, I will find you.”

The woman is Abigail Williams, who once condemned twenty innocents to hang in the Salem witch trials. Now, a decade later, under the name Ruth Meadow, she runs a pox healing house on a remote hill in Boston. The house—and the name–were left her by a woman named Margaret Hale, years before, granting  her a fleeting sense of removal from the horrors she perpetrated in Salem. She treats the afflictions of sailors returned from sea, and has also treated a young boy named Thomas—a boy she continues to meet from time to time in town.

Ruth takes in a pox-stricken sailor, John Brown, and begins his treatment: bleeding, by leeches. As the treatments progress, Brown’s symptoms become more excruciating, more gruesome, even hallucinatory…

In a dream, Ruth visits an “unhallowed” clearing in the forest, where she, as Abigail, once danced for the devil, and signed her name in his book. Possessed, she dances again, when she hears a familiar spirit voice: it is John Proctor, the man she had once slept with, then condemned to die…

Suddenly back to the present, John Brown thrashes and cries: “COME AT ME, DEVIL!” he shouts, flinging open his arms. Ruth knows it is the fever; but Brown believes it’s the devil coming to take him for his sins. A day later, he asks why Ruth has no love in her life. Hesitantly, she confesses that she did once love a man—but that he was married. She is shocked when John Brown then asks her to marry him, and immediately shuts him down.

The next day, Ruth goes with the young Thomas to witness the execution of an infamous band of pirates in town. When she recounts the hanging to John Brown, he admits that he himself is a pirate on the run, remorseful of his sins and desperate for forgiveness. Ruth demands that he flee—but then, vulnerably, shares her true background, and her name, Abigail. They kiss passionately, and she agrees to stay with him.

The next morning, a Man in Gray appears. It is the Devil. He has come to collect on Abigail’s promise, and take her down to hell; but she manages to secure one final day on Earth. On that final day, she visits Elizabeth, John Proctor’s widow. Elizabeth is livid at the very sight of Abigail, who seduced and killed her husband. Abigail apologizes, and also tells that she bore Proctor’s son, Thomas. She persuades Elizabeth to adopt Thomas, and raise him free of stain, protected from evil.

Abigail returns to the meet the Devil. But as they are about to descend into Hell, they find themselves suddenly surrounded by spirits: they are the twenty innocents. Humbly, Abigail asks their forgiveness. And as she does, the Devil recedes, and Abigail is immersed in warmth and light.