Saturday, August 2, 2014

Summer Blog 2014 pt. 8 - The Crucible

I have gotten so behind on this blog, I'm so sorry friends! All I can say is that I've been having perhaps a little too much fun in London and Oxford and have also been busy since summer classes started. I might be in Oxford now but the blog is still back in London. So let me try to get things caught up.

Warning: I've been staying in a residence hall with a bunch of other fangirls (and a few fanboys) for more than four weeks. This post contains many fangirl references, squees, and a general use of internet linguistics (aka Tumblr Speak) because this whole experience was so amazing I seriously lost all ability to can. Like, seriously ya'll, I can't even anymore, I just can't. So if that bothers you, please feel free to skip this post and I'll save my lecture on the evolution of language and the importance of sociolinguistics for another day. :)

A few weeks ago (has it really been that long?!) I had the amazing opportunity to go see Aruthur Miller's The Crucible at the Old Vic Theatre in London, starring none other than one of my favorite actors (and object of a fangirl crush), Richard Armitage (Spooks, North & South, The Hobbit). I'd been so behind on the fangirl gossip since getting to Europe at the beginning of June that I totally didn't know this was even a thing that was happening. A really awesome thing. 

So the story starts when I got back from Prague. I decided to take the Tube to Kings Cross Station and then take a taxi the rest of the way back to the flat rather than deal with changing lines with all my luggage (my bags were really heavy, lots of shopping in Prague). As I was coming back up from the underground I was stopped in my tracks (and nearly passed out) when I saw a giant poster on the wall of Armitage, brooding and scowling and generally looking his usual attractive staring down at all of us walking by. As soon as I got back to the flat I checked with Alicia to see if she'd be interested and we raced upstairs to look up tickets. To our surprise and joy, there were tickets available. Squeee!!!!! So excited! We booked out tickets for the following week and on 25 June it was time to head down south of the River Thames to the Old Vic Theatre. I met Alicia after work and we had dinner down the road and then went to the theatre. Walking up I could tell the fangirls were out en masse. I'd say the crowd was about mixed, half and half. Half your normal theatre going crowd, the other half most likely members of the Armitage Army. We went in, bought a souvenir poster and program, and took our seats.

The production, directed by Yaël Farber, and co stars Anna Madeley (heartbreaking as Elizabeth Proctor) and Samantha Colley (captivating as Abigail Williams). The play is staged in the round, which having worked in theatre myself for so many years, let me tell you, that can go really bad, really fast. I usually don't like productions in the round. Usually end up staring at the back of someone's head for most of a scene. But they did such a good job, the blocking and movement was excellent, they only *slightly* privileged the direction I was sitting in but for the most part they played almost equally to all directions of the audience. No easy feat. The set was minimal, a few pieced of furniture and a strategic trap door. The costumes were also appropriately minimal, slightly more than just suggestive of the period but unobtrusive enough that they weren't distracting. They had the feel of rigid puritanism without being stark black and white. I really appreciated the design choice they made with the show. The lighting design was also really effective and atmospheric. It really helped you get swept up in the drama unfolding before you. You almost forget you're in a theatre in South London. I think my favorite design element though was the sound design. I'm pretty sure most of the audience didn't notice it. It was so subtle. Richard Hammarton (music and sound designer) did an incredible job. I'm such a geek when it comes to theatre and live performances that I purposely split my focus so I can pay attention to the design elements. But with the sound design I found I kept losing that focus, it was so subtle and so deftly layered into the action of the show and just added to the eerie and unsettling feeling the show projects. The show is approximately 4 hours long but the action and pacing is so good you are just taken along on the ride.

The show is on until 13 September 2014, check out the Old Vic's website for more info and if you're in London and can still get a ticket you totally should. Like, for real, you totally should. The theatre is fairly small, so as long as you're not sat right behind a pillar you'll have a decent view of the stage. We were super lucky and were sitting only about 7 rows back and on the aisle. I nearly passed out twice when Richard Armitage walked right by me. Twice. Twice! *sigh*swoon* Watching him live, in performance really is a rare treat. Watching any actor live is a wonderful experience. I really wish more theatres did like the National Theatre and filmed their productions to screen in cinemas, because it really is a shame that more people won't be able to see this brilliant production. Watching the cast, but especially Armitage, just confirmed why I love his work. You can't fake good acting. Some great film performances are almost entirely constructed in the editing booth. But that doesn't work in live theatre. Either you have the talent or you don't. And Armitage does. Why Hollywood doesn't cast him in everything and why people still give me blank looks when I mention him is beyond me. Beyond. It's the same feeling I got after watching the NTLive screening of Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston. Yes, we fangirls giggle and squee, but at the end of the day, actors like Armitage, Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, and others, have the talent to back up their good looks. Unlike the usual Hollywood type, these guys can act! And it's amazing to see it in person. To feel the air around you shake when they deliver a strong performance. I'm telling you all, it was 4 hours of amazement and wonder and heartbreak over what the characters go through.

Ok, I'll stop fangirling for now. Below are a few videos related to the production (you can watch more on the Old Vic's YouTube channel Crucible playlist here) and just a couple pictures from the day. Enjoy. :)





Getting ready!

The Old Vic Theatre


Right after Alicia took this picture I joked that this was as close as I was going to get to him. I was sooooo wrong. :)

1 comment:

  1. Loved your review: funny and light-hearted but well written. Do check out my own review if you have the time and let me know what you think. I agree that Armitage is a great actor. There is nowhere to hide on stage so it is either swim or sink and he swam alright!

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