Under the Crab Apple Tree is based on a true story: Edward Wheeler Hall, a handsome clergyman in New Jersey, and his lover Eleanor Mills, the singer in the church choir, were found together murdered in 1926. The torn-up remains of love letters were left at their feet.
The police investigation led to the arrest of the minister’s wife, Frances Noel Stevens, and two of her brothers. The details of their ensuing trial fascinated the entire country.
Edgar Lustgarten’s dramatization of this sensational case comes with actors performing court transcripts, including an especially riveting portrayal of the case’s star witness, the pig farmer Jane Gibson. The courtroom is evoked by crowd sounds and reverb-soaked dialogue meant to suggest a large hall.