Reverend Parris Assesses Betty’s Powers (Act I)

Reverend Parris was played with great gestic precision throughout the production, and there is a page that focuses on an example of this i Act IV here. His changes of physicality helped point to his remarkable talent for changing opinion as it suited him. In the example below, however, we wanted to point out just how ludicrous some of his ideas could be.

Before he leaves the bedroom in Act I, he advises Abigail to shout if Betty goes for the window, explaining to Thomas Putman that ‘There is a terrible power in her arms today’.

The clip here shows how the line can be interpreted:

Parris clearly believes that Betty can fly and so the gesture that follows the solemn pronouncement gains greater absurdity. The audience found this funny in all the performances, and it helped frame Parris as both a laughable and a dangerous figure, as Putnam very much agreed with him as they exited.