If tonight while you are experiencing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at The Old Vic in London, England, when you look around you in this legendary theatre and wonder who is the most powerful person in the room, you will have many suspects.
Is power situated in the intimidatingly tall actor fellow Richard Armitage brilliantly shouldering the burden of lead actor in portraying the tormented John Proctor (image right by Thorin of Erebor)? Is it in the young actress Samantha Colley who is making her stunning professional debut as Abigail Williams–Proctor’s nemesis and scorned former lover seeking revenge? Is it in the wife Elizabeth Proctor, poignantly portrayed by Anna Madeley, who must bear her humiliation at being betrayed by her husband John with Abigail? Is it any of the other wonderful ensemble cast and creatives, such as director Yael Farber or designer Soutra Gilmour and others? *whispering* No.
Ever since Previews for The Crucible (image left) began June 21st the company has been waiting for this pivotal moment. Hell! Everything since they were cast and began rehearsals has been building to this moment. During Previews, the public has overwhelmingly praised their production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” at The Old Vic. But there were a few negative comments about the nearly 4 hour running time, the heat when the air conditioning wasn’t working, and the nearly 4 hour running time (even with a 20 minute interval midway through). People, get over the length of the play–bring a pillow for your back and don’t drink a lot of water before you go. Ha!
Tonight, the rhetorical power of theatre criticism will reside in a relatively few people as The Crucible company waits to see what the British Theatre Critics reviews will say after the critics attend the Press Night performance on July 3rd–tonight! Might there be in attendance more than one critic of the stature and longevity of The Guardian’s Michael Billington? Theatre critics can often make or break a play’s reception by the public. And there are still some empty seats to be filled at The Crucible according to one theatre goer. A fuller house would convey to the critics that the public has a heightened and favorable interest. It might not sway the critics, but it couldn’t hurt. Will the Critics find this production raw and emotional, full of gripping performances, the staging and ambience dynamic, and the production as a whole powerful and stunning? Let us hope so.
And let us also hope that no one gets any broken bones by the actors ramping up more–or even consistently performing–the dramatically violent scenes in The Crucible (right). And I am speaking as one whose college acting partner was a little too zealous in tripping me during a competition performance on a cramped stage–him unintentionally causing me to receive a severely sprained ankle. Though I somehow finished the acting scene and limped away leaning on him heavily. Ha!
While we Richard Armitage fans tensely await the reviews of The Crucible and the reviews of the performances of the exquisitely talented British actor Richard Armitage and the cast, here is another account (by lifesnogoodwithoutasmile) of experiencing The Crucible who gives raves reviews (link tweeted by Romina Oakenshield, Thanks!):
So fingers crossed and break a leg–not literally, Ha!–to the cast of The Crucible tonight!
P.S. And if you live in London and can spare 10 pounds for a ticket, think about heading to the theatre tonight to #PackTheCrucible at The Old Vic Theatre (image right) as a show of support for this wonderful production!
P.S. And if you aren’t at least a little bit interested in learning more about The Crucible production yet, then listen to Richard Armitage in a brief interview about why he was interested in portraying John Proctor in The Crucible:
Richard Armitage Central has some stunning audio excerpts from radio interviews. Here is the Crucible Director Yael Farber discussing the play at length:
http://richardarmitagecentral.co.uk/yael-farber-on-bbc-radio-4-today/ and a Richard Armitage as John Proctor and Anna Madeley as Elizabeth Proctor excerpt.
And we have some audio excerpts from the play:
http://richardarmitagecentral.co.uk/yael-farber-interview-on-bbc-radio-3/ and Armitage as Proctor excerpts, RAC link shared by Servetus (Thanks to Agonistes and The Anglophile Channel for pointing me to this link.)
*****UPDATE with a Press Night Review and a Fan Reaction July 3, 2014******
Many other bloggers and Richard Armitage resources sites will have the bulk of the reviews up tonight and tomorrow. But I wanted to share a review that I have seen so far, just to keep the information tidily together.
The wonderful kudos to The Crucible cast and creatives came from theatre critic Charles Spencer of the Telegraph:
And here is a brief excerpt from Spencer’s Telegraph review of The Crucible:
“Richard Armitage, best known for TV dramas and The Hobbit movies, proves an exhilarating stage actor, with blazing eyes and a righteous fury about him, as well as manifest decency. His deep guilt about his brief affair with Abigail, who has become his nemesis, is powerfully caught. And his final reconciliation with his wife, beautifully played by Anna Madeley, who admits her own part in their troubles, proves extraordinarily intimate and moving.”
Thanks to Servetus for retweeting the link to the Telegraph’s post of the article! My cap above of the article post is above.
I capped Armitagina’s tweet pictures and color corrected for the street lighting a bit, but she did a fabulous job with these images. And Richard Armitage looks coolly elegant!
Some tweets also indicated that Mr. Armitage’s Hobbit co-stars–Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, and others–were in attendance. That’s wonderfully collegially and supportive of them.
I look forward to reading other bloggers’ takes on tonight’s Press Night performance of The Crucible. And I will try to post their links in the comments below–or if they want to post their post links in a comment, that will be great!
***One More Update–The Crucible Press Night Party***
Dan Wooller has taken some impressive portraits at The Crucible Press Night party–none more so than this one:
I think we can see why John Proctor strayed. Samantha Colley is stunning in that little brown leather number. Not to mention Richard Armitage’s presence and handsomeness that would cause the young Abigail to stray and become obsessed with him. They were perfectly cast for these roles! As Charles Spencer said in his Telegraph review, their chemistry onstage is electric!
These two actors must be just beside themselves with giddy joy for the amazing play they are in–and the reception of their performances!
And I notice that Mr. Armitage’s hand is in its usual spot on his lady costars–right at her hip. I joked on Twitter that ovaries are bursting all over the RA Fandom tonight in seeing Richard Armitage triumph in The Crucible and him looking so darn handsome doing it–or in my case, my ovaries rejuvenating. Ha!
Here is Dan Wooller’s web site where the image above and 52 other stunning portraits of The Crucible cast and creatives at the Press Night After party may be found:
Thanks to Fernanda Matais for the image link above and to Richard Armitage Central for Mr. Wooller’s site link.
P.S. Finally, here is a another RA fan named Wendy who got to meet Richard Armitage after a previous performance and found him unfailingly warm and gracious:
Thanks to Servetus again for retweeting Wendy, and that is how I saw her picture and comment. My cap.