Witch Trial.

The Witch Dungeon Museum

Field review by the editors.

Salem, Massachusetts

The Witch Dungeon Museum features a live witch trial, a most entertaining presentation of justice. It's located right where it all happened back in 1692.

The show begins with several minutes of preparatory narration, piped into a "courtroom" filled with tourists. Stage curtains slowly pull back to reveal a shadowy court bench and jury box, containing roughly a dozen trail participants.

The proceedings get underway quickly, but it soon becomes apparent to the more attentive audience members that only two of the performers are actually alive. The rest are thinly-disguised dummies that fail to move an inch or utter a syllable during the entire show. However, the prosecutor and the accused, Sarah Goode, are animated -- animated enough to make up for a whole dungeon of dummies.

Every summer a new duo of aspiring actresses work their thespian magic here. The witch gets to be spooky by cackling and prancing about in a moldy, hooded cape, but it's the prosecutor who has the lion's share of great moments. Our favorite is her twitching struggle with some invisible demon as she shrieks, "She has the devil's mark! She's biting me!!!" The audience accepts all this in dead earnest, even at the climax when the witch, ranting incoherently, plunges into the crowd, whacks the pressure bar on the nearest exit door, and disappears!

Audience members, still awestruck, are then led on a tour of the dark, lower dungeons, where the dummies that are too deteriorated to stay upstairs in the courtroom are flogged and tortured. It is here that the economy of the Witch Dungeon becomes apparent, as it is the prosecutor who leads the tour while the witch pops out of murky cubbyholes screaming at the top of her lungs.

Also see: Creatures Guide: Witches

The Witch Dungeon Museum

Address:
16 Lynde St., Salem, MA
Directions:
Hwy 128 exit 25A. Drive east of Hwy 114. At the Salem line follow the tri-color signs to downtown. At the Witch House turn left onto Essex St. and follow the sign to the parking lot.
Hours:
Daily, Apr-Nov 10 am - 5 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
978-741-3570
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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April 18, 2014

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