After spending some time with The Crucible (Penguin USA) you may feel that not being able to turn off your computer is the technical equivalent to not being able to put down a good book. With in-depth historical information on the Salem Witch Trials, the Hollywood Blacklist of the 1950’s, and literary commentary from actors, critics, and the playwright Arthur Miller, this CD-ROM is overflowing with information perfect for teachers, students or even bookworms interested in one of the great dramatic plays of the 20th Century. The menu (presented as a theater lobby) is easy to navigate, and the inclusion of maps and short video clips of actors (from the 1990 National Theater production) provides a stimulating and personal approach to researching the play’s characters. The highlight of the disc is Miller discussing his play and his personal experience with McCarthyism, which not only influenced his decision to write the play but literally became the backdrop for the characters. For the theatrically minded there’s information on stage design, characters, costumes, and past performances. For the literary minded there is detailed analysis and criticism, an expanded book version with sophisticated annotation, and search devices to aid research. Finally, for the history minded there is a wealth of information chronicling almost every event of the Salem Witch Trials, with direct (and fascinating) comparisons between the witch trials and McCarthyism. That’s enough to keep even the MTV generation entertained. This disc preceded the recent movie version, so Winona Ryder is, thankfully, absent.
– February 1996, Literature