Wednesday, July 30, 2014

RICHARD ARMITAGE IN THE CRUCIBLE (an inarticulate review)

Richard Armitage

What a wonderful play.  Rich and I saw The Crucible at the Old Vic on July 14 (I think).  We had unbelievable seats - dress circle, first row, smack in the middle.  I had no idea what to expect, and was disappointed, at first, when I read on the side of the theater that it was in the round.  I hate theater in the round.  Usually I get distracted very easily - slight attention span problem there - and, I end up worrying about the actors or if they're going to fall or trip over someone's big feet.

(Actually, in this play, one had to be concerned about the sighing women in the audience with RA in the lead.  One very funny bit - when he removes his shirt to wash up - there was a drastic intake of breath causing a severe loss of breathable oxygen in the room!)

 But, I digress.  I said I hate in the round theater, but happily this was very different.  For one thing, the stage is rather foggy, so that the audience across from you looks more like other characters in the play somehow; almost as if they were sitting in judgement over the proceedings.  And the theater felt more oblong than in a round, with the rows of seats across from us facing ours, with the tiers of balcony seats reminding me of representations of the Globe theater.  Instead of sloping away, the different levels where stacked one directly over the other, giving the theater a more closed in feeling - absolutely perfect for this play.

Enough about all that! The play was wonderful, from the very first moment with the eeriness of Tituba's silent (nearly silent) walk around the stage.   Richard was really magnificent.  Even my husband, who had fallen fast asleep last year when we visited London and saw Perfect Nonsense, was captivated by the play, especially the second half which is magnificent.  The girls - oh, you just want to slap the lot of them - but, when they begin chanting in unison, it is incredibly creepy.

All of the actors were equally wonderful, with two standouts.  Richard, of course, and also Jack Ellis (I think that's his name - I was much too cheap to buy a program).  He played Deputy Governor Danforth, another person deserving a slap on the face.

The only thing that bothered me was RA's voice.  Normally it's such a soothing sound, but he sounded very hoarse here - and no wonder.  We saw the matinee show and then they did it all again for the evening show two hours after we left the theater.   Actors are wonderful.  How they can project such emotion, such heart wrenching tragedy, night after night, is amazing to me.


Anyway, what I really wanted to say was this.  At one moment during the play - don't ask me when because my mind froze up completely - RA exits the stage by walking up a staircase.  A staircase that led directly to where I was seated.  I watched his shadowed figure come up the steps, one at a time, very slowly - and he kept coming closer, and this dark figure kept getting larger and larger, until I thought he was going to jump over the dress circle wall I was grabbing onto in front of my seat.  I truly was smack dab in the middle, and there was a time in my life when that man would not have made it out of the theater alive.  As it was, the girl next to me began making strange hawking noises in the back of her throat.

Anyway, he did get almost eye level and then the steps head downward.  I don't think I took a breath the whole time.  All I remember is that my eyebrow began to twitch and get really, really itchy, but RA was walking straight toward me and I was afraid to move.   I finally went nuts and began gouging at my eyeball to scratch it during this very, very dramatic ascent.  He must have thought I was a looney bird.