A Crucible Experience by German fan Lisa

(might contain spoilers for those who are not familiar with the play)

I still can’t believe I’m even in the position to write a report such as this. Me, just some crazy German (fan-)girl, going to London just to see Richard Armitage in a play? Yeah, right.

But first things first.
It all began one fine day in the beginning of May. My best friend was visiting me and we went for a walk. And as we walked in the sunshine I told her about this actor called Richard Armitage whom I quite liked (well, I might have used some stronger word) and was doing a play which I quite liked in London. Pitying myself a little for living in Germany and not in London (I do that really often, I reckon, now that I think about it) because I wouldn’t be able to see this promising combination of said actor and play she just replied: “Why not exactly?” Well, aren’t money, university, time and the reason that it is just nuts to make all these efforts only for a three-hour-play? The answer was quickly found: “No!”
I want to emphasize that all of this wasn’t even my idea (especially if my parents read this who are convinced that we both are complete lunatics; it’s not always me) but the idea of a girl who is not the least interested in Richard, never even heard his name before. But she was willing to accompany me, to spend money and time, just to see me happy. I love her.

But back to topic. We struggled a little to find the best date (these summer months, you know) but finally we agreed on first weekend in July.
I researched a little and found out that the play would still be in its previews. Not familiar with that concept some site on the internet told me that this would mean the play wouldn’t have officially opened its run, would still be a ‘work in progress’ and if things go wrong the director could abort the performance. It was the last thing that really worried me. I mean we would come all the way to see the play and in the worst case they would cancel it? Not an option. I tried contacting the Old Vic for clarification, but no answer. By now it was the end of May, the really good seats at the Old Vic were almost all booked and the flights were getting more expensive every day it seemed so we decided to just take a chance and book it all anyways. Oh Lord!

June went by and after the play’s premiere my worrying heart could be still. Yes, Richard Armitage is performing. Yes, the play is being shown in its full version. And hell yes, he takes his time with the fans after the show. The last part made happy and frightened me at the same time.

I spare you the details of the journey to London and everything that went wrong even at the night of the play (talking about losing our way even though we had walked it 3 times before or me losing our tickets in the theatre which were found by an employee thank God) and cut right to the point.

We had tickets for the evening performance on Saturday, July 5. Our seats were in the first row in the Dress Circle which were perfect. As we entered the theatre I couldn’t have been more excited. My inner fangirl was throwing a party and I felt like I was 14 year old teenager again. I was in the same building as Richard Armitage. Me. And soon he would be on stage right in front of me. Oh my God!!!

It all changed when the play started. I might have come for Richard but I stayed for the production.
I was hooked from the first minute to the last. Much has been said about the staging and I just want to go into some of my favourite moments of the play.

Firstly, the beginning. The room goes dark, eerie music starts and in walks Tituba, mumbling some words. Soon after the rest of the cast follows and you see Richard for the first time. It was superb. Very mystical.

Second, the scene where Betty and Abigail accuse their first villagers of witchcraft. Fascinating. I had goosebumps all over my body.

Then at the Proctor ‘s home in Act 2; John and Elizabeth are discussing their issues amongst other things. I always thought Richard was a good actor besides being ridiculously handsome. But in this scene (as well as in his last scene with Elizabeth) he outdid himself in my opinion. I think it was then when I didn’t see the actors anymore but the characters. That never happened to me before.

The leave-me-my-name-scene. I still can’t think of it without shivering; it was heartbreaking.

I could go on and on like this. I love theatre. I go regularly to see plays of all different kinds in our local state theatre and I always have been pleased with them. This was on a whole different level and can’t be compared to anything I saw before. The acting, the atmosphere, the music, the feeling – everything was beyond perfect. And this is not the fangirl speaking.
Every role was perfectly cast but for me the ones who stood out where Adrian Schiller (Reverend Hale) and Natalie Gavin (Mary Warren) which were both just fantastic.

After the play ended the whole cast came out to get their applause. Almost everybody was on their feet giving standing ovations (dersevedly so). I have been told Brits are very spare with standing ovations so it was very pleasing to see the whole theatre cheering. Soon the whole cast left the stage, only Richard remained and the cheering got even louder. He just stood there with a satisfied smirk, bathing in the applause for a moment and then left. Lights went on and that was it.
Actually that left me very confused. I’m used to applauding endlessly and the cast coming out 4, 5 or even 6 times if people are still clapping.

So we made our way to the stage door where many people were already waiting. My friend and I chatted about the play and although she struggled with the language the emotions the actors conveyed left her speechless, too. I think that’s proof of a brilliant performance.
One actor after the other came out, the gave some autographs and you could hear people shouting ‘great performance’ to everyone. Samantha Colley even blushed at that.

When Adrian Schiller came out people started cheering really loud. So loud that the bodyguards who were keeping the line in order asked people to calm down because of the residents who weren’t to be disturbed.

Then the moment we all have been waiting for arrived: Richard Armitage, in the flesh, in front of us. I know it has been said before but he looks even better in person. Taking his time for each and everyone, taking pictures with everybody he made his way through the line.
Unfortunately I can’t pride myself in saying something totally funny and memorable to him but I didn’t make an complete idiot of me either (hey, that’s great). It was just a ‘Hi!’ and a ‘Can we also take a picture?’ followed by a ‘thank you’ to which he replied ‘sure, nice to meet you’ and looked straight into my eyes. And I still managed to not faint. And that was it.

Actually something really did happen: My friend was taking the picture and required quite some time for this (I was even starting to be afraid the camera wasn’t working). When Richard was gone she said to me: “Did you even notice that I was taking my time with the pic so you could cuddle him a little longer?” Have I already mentioned I loved that woman?

We stayed while he made his way through all the line and when he signed the last autograph he looked at us asking if you wanted him to sign anything also and when we replied that we were good he wished us a good night and was rushed off by the security guys. Such a sweetheart.

After he was gone we stayed and took some pictures of the theatre.
Adrian Schiller, who apparently entered the theatre again, came out for a smoke and my friend who was actually very impressed with his performance engaged him in a conversation. We congratulated him on his performance and told him we came all the way from Germany to see the play. He was a bit surprised but totally pleased with it I think and we talked about our stay in London, he asked where exactly in Germany we were from etc. Then we wished him good luck with the production and off we went. He was such a lovely guy.

And with this I end my little story. It was an unforgettable evening despite every inconvenience and everything that went wrong.

Kate, weighs in on her Crucible Experience

Posted as a comment on Armitage Agonistes, here’s the text:

kate 2h
I went to see the matinee today, pleasant surprise half price ticket in stalls. For those wanting good view of actors ask for regular stall seats, I was in row L 17 and Armitage walked up this aisle at least twice. Most actors faced in my direction the entire play. Was it enthralling? A most definite yes, Abigail and Rev Hales’ performances exceptional. Armitage, you asked about his voice. It sounds like Thornton when he proposes to Miss Hale, only more of a growl. Sometimes I could not make out what he was saying and I am slightly concerned he is not as practiced as others are with speaking on stage vs. Screen but I am sure this is something that can improve as the production continues. I spoke to lots of old Vic staff and they are all thrilled with this production. The confidence and intensity is captivating and I would recommend it to others- because of the play’s power and message which Farber and cast have delivered. I expected to focus on Armitage but oddly he melted into the ensemble which is a win win. The play is evenly balanced and everyone is compelling which allows the play to engage you. Armitage’s Proctor is wounded more than anything else but the clarity of his vision pierces the political posturing. Wonderful, it has motivated me to vote next time there is an election. We have the privilege of a voice, we must use it. I encourage anyone with means to go and see this. And I think it likely you’ll see the play transfer to New York.

Exclusive ( I think) Freia & Nicole Share Sat. Night

Emailed to me from Freia, who, with Nicole wants to #SharetheCrucibleExperience


Sooooo…my friend and I saw the Crucible on Saturday night and it was absolutely mindblowing! Richard and the cast were brilliant, they totally blew us away with their performance! Especially Adrian Schiller (John Hale), Natalie Gavin (Mary Warren) and William Gaunt (Giles Corey) impressed with their performance and are in no way overshadowed by a stunning Richard Armitage.

The stage, with the audience around it, makes it easy to feel carried away and involved in the tragedy which is the Crucible. At some point, I wanted to storm onto the stage and just slap Samantha Colley (Abigail Williams) silly for spreading lies and destroying people’s lives with her intrigues. As for Richard, he absolutely ownes the audience. I had to force myself to look at the other actors on stage often enough while Richard was there.

My friend was one of the people whose seat (F37) was deleted and she was given another seat in G32. That seat was way better and she had a really good view on the stage and had to endure some close contacts and near misses. Richard almost hit her with his rifle while running by and one of the actors actually spit on her while walking down the stage talking. (lol sorry) It was a good seat with a great view, if not for the giant sitting in front of her.

Despite the dark atmosphere of the play, the cast made the audience laugh several times. When Giles Corey announced that his wife reads a book ( READING for crying out loud!) and behaves funny or when John Proctor stands up to Reverend Parris’ authority, they gave the audience quite a chuckle.

At the end of the first act someone behind me actually had the nerve to start snoring, but he was woken up by another man who gave him a nugde with his programme. The nerve! How can anyone fall asleep during such a play! 🙂

And now to the part where Richard takes of his shirt. Some advice – I sat in 9D and they put a kitchen table on the stage right in front of that block…and I nearly jumped onto my neighbours lap because I could not see Richard undress! Do not sit there unless you are not a Richard fan!

My personal favorite scenes were 1. the beginning scenes with John Proctor and Abigail, where the tension between them is almost physically hurting. 2. the scene where Goody Proctor lies to protect her husband, but it backfires. Richard was standing with his back to me as he told his wife that he had confessed his affair with Abigail, so I sadly could not see his face, but the agony in his whole acting was absolutely breathtaking. 3. When John Proctor is led away from his wife to be hanged, looking back at her as if he wants her to be the last thing he sees on earth.

At the end of the play the audience gave the cast standing ovations and Richard acknowledged it with a smile!

After the play we made for the Stage door and waited patiently until Richard came out. The line was reaching up the street, nearly to the entrance of the Old Vic. The security guys had their hands full as they had to lure the people down of the street, so that they would not get hit by a car. One of the security guys was asked if Richard would really work his way through the whole line and he answered: “Richard will do them all.” And he did.

The other cast members left quite early and in a hurry (it was saturday night guys), some of them were also asked to give autographs and they seemed to be quite happy about it. The fans at the stage door also applauded as they walked by, which was well deserved! I think it was Christopher Godwin (Judge Hathorne) who smiled at the women (and a few men) in the line and said something like: ‘I am not so nasty in real life!’

Richard took his time to sign every fans poster, book or programme and to take pics with everyone there! He must have been incredibly tired after a whole week of performance and two performances that day alone, but he did not forget one single fan at the stage door. The wave of mostly female fans must have been quite overwhelming, but Richard was all gentleman. The poor bodyguard had to stand there with his arms full of presents and gifts for Richard, but he seemed to take it with humor.

We saw Fraser Kelly and his Mom (from Urban and the Shed Crew) come out from the stage door and the boy looked at the long line in amazement. Maybe he thought that he should work on becoming such a great actor as Richard so that the same line of fans would stand at the stage door to see him some day .

All in all it was a wonderful evening and we were really depressed to leave London the next day! I can just say that I would fly to London and watch the play every single weekend until the13th of september if I could. Even if you’re not a fan of Richard that trip is worth every minute, every cent and every missed hour of sleep!

Oh and btw…we were travelling through half on London with the Underground and there was not a single Crucible poster anymore. A real disappointment. Not that we wanted to jump onto it and kiss it, but you know…




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