(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in The Chicago Sun-Times, 11/30.)
Before anything can be said about Griffin Theatre’s ambitious production of Maxwell Anderson’s rarely revived 1935 play, “Winterset,” a bit of background about the case of Sacco and Vanzetti — often seen as an example of the American justice system at its most flawed and prejudicial — is essential.
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Italian-American anarchists and immigrants who were convicted of murdering a guard and a paymaster during the armed robbery of a Massachusetts shoe company in 1920. Their case attracted international attention, for despite appeals in which recanted testimony, conflicting ballistics evidence, a prejudicial pre-trial statement by the jury foreman, and a confession by an alleged participant in the robbery all suggested the accused men were innocent, the two were sent to the electric chair. The question at hand: Did the social and political prejudices of the time result in the miscarriage of justice?
(Photo: Chicago Tribune)