Just Concluded The Crucible Family Night

Whew- busy week! I’ve been avoiding blogging for a week now, trying to be a responsible adult, catching up on dictating my charts at work, chasing documents for the accountant, arranging and rearranging my latest quilt on the design wall, sheltering from Oklahoma tornadoes, enduring power outages, and running the kids here, there and everywhere… but I thought I’d share a quick update on the Armitage-related doings.

Confirming what we all already knew, I did spend another small fortune in pursuit of my Richarding interests. After finding out that I couldn’t satisfactorily watch The Crucible on my large screen TV in any other way… even if I timed it well and did use the Samsung SmartTV DT app for my measly 48 hour window, unfortunately the quality of our wireless out here in the boondocks would not allow streaming to the TV without crap quality and ridiculous buffering… so I opted to invest in the laptop. Hubby didn’t ask the price, just asked that I not inquire about any new bass guitar that might appear in the near future.

As if I were the type to even notice a new bass guitar! He finally broke down and asked if I’d seen his new bass several weeks ago, the one he’d hinted about hiding in plain sight when I outed myself about the blog, and the answer was “Oh, you did buy that bass? Where is it?” (It was on the bass stand in the craft/music room we share, and I’d been in that room piecing my latest quilt for 2 weeks without ever catching on, even when he was in the room, practicing on the damn thing… my bad!)

So, yes… I’m the proud owner of a new MacBook Pro, and I have to say, I love it. It’s pretty nice to have access to my Richarding when the kids are monopolizing the desktop in pursuit of Minecraft on YouTube, or Hubby is browsing his mineral auctions or his political sites. I’m liking it a lot. I wrote my latest spoof from the comfort of the couch on my new laptop, and it’s a lot faster than the desktop. My one disappointment was figuring out that the Giffing Tool is not available on iOs. This means I’ll have to pursue my new Giffing habit at work or horn in on the desktop occasionally, but I suppose I’ll make do. I was able to install the DT desktop player and download The Crucible, though, and so we invited family over for ribs and theatre night this evening.

Hubby has been perfecting his smoking techniques lately, and has wanted to have the family over to try his amazing baby back ribs, and that was a big draw for the men. Don’t know that they were too interested in the theatre aspect of the evening, but most men will come for ribs. LOL. Even my brother was initially game, but he then opted out at the last minute, citing the need to study all weekend. Turns out his study partner is a girl, and he sheltered with her on Wednesday, when severe tornadic storms blew through, over at her place. All night. And now needs to study over at her place, all weekend. Right. So evidently even the lure of smoked ribs was not enough to overcome this newfound academic dedication. Lol.

Happily, the kids were shuffled off to the Gymnastics Play Night, a parent’s night out initiative at the local gymnastics academy, and we were free to watch The Crucible free of constant interruptions, disputes, requests, spills, and so on. The laptop-HDMI-TV method worked exactly as it should, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening.

OK, so the stepdad nodded off in Act 1 and missed its entirety. That’s his usual MO for any movie, so no disrespect to Richard. He did wake up and watch Act 2 when Mom loudly announced Richard was about to take his shirt off, and I endured a bit of ribbing from everyone, not to mention Hubby flashing his left nipple at me just when the shirtless John Proctor stretched out and I was enjoying that lovely side-view. Yes, he did. Luckily Mom was rather intently watching the onscreen nipple performance when Hubby did that. =)

I particularly enjoyed an interlude during the set change between Acts 3 and 4, when I checked to see if anyone was sleeping, but didn’t have a good view of Mom, whose face was obscured by a couch cushion.

“Is she sleeping?” I asked Hubby.

Mom sat up indignantly. “No, I’m not sleeping!”

“Well, it wouldn’t be the first time you slept during The Crucible…” I goaded her.

Hubby, adopting Judge Danforth’s strident tone, demanded, “DID you, or DID you NOT sleep on The Crucible Front Row? WHAT SAY YOU, Goody Brown?”

To which Mom cried, equally dramatically, “I were JET-LAGGED, Mister! I were jet-lagged, but I am awake NOW!”

And so on… it was a fun evening, and good reviews all around, for both the smoked ribs and The Crucible. Hubby and stepdad broke into loud applause when it was over, which I suspect may have been precisely because it was over, so I made a point of complimenting Richard’s nipple just to get Hubby’s goat! Mom thought that was outrageous, and I almost told her then and there that there was a lot more to be said about that nipple, and it was to be found on my blog… SURPRISE!… but I decided at the last moment not to go there, mainly because we needed to be responsible and pick our children up from Gymnastics Play Night, and needed to get on the road if we weren’t to be *those parents*, the ones whose kids are very last to be picked up. (That happened to me once, at Girl Scout Camp… my folks had the pick-up date wrong and had to be called when every last kid except me was gone, and they didn’t show up. It was the most excruciating and embarrassing 3 hours of my childhood, waiting around with the camp councilors as Mom and Dad sped 200 miles across New Mexico to fetch me, knowing that they all probably had party plans but had to sit around babysitting The Lonesome Girl Scout instead.)

However, it’s back to the design wall at Mom’s quilting loft tomorrow, and I’m quite sure Mom will be there, ready to offer her two-cents on my design, and I may just tell her about the blog then.

We’ll see. =)

Preoccupied with John Proctor – First Impressions

I think I should not whinge about travel woes, but I will go so far as to say that I probably made a mistake booking The Crucible Night 1 on the very day of our arrival. I had my reasons… a bit of online reconnaissance and a desire to be splashed by John Proctor’s ablutions led me to require at least one seating in F17 or thereabouts. Trouble was, that section was booked on all available performances except Thursday, August 28. However, as we were supposed to arrive prior to 10am, I thought Mom and I would have ample time to nap away our jet lag. Plus, we could sleep on the airplane, right? Cue violins, as none of that happened. Odious back-to-back flight delays, 2 hours in customs, taxi woes, and our room not even ready when we finally did arrive… let’s just say our luck was horrid and leave it at that.

All this to say, I was seriously jet-lagged at this performance. Servetus mentioned that some theatre-goers were to be seen sleeping during the performance, and I cringe to admit that to my horror and embarrassment, Mom was one of those. In fact, Servetus was there that night, and she may well have been referring to Mom. Yes, there in the front row, Mom mostly slept, despite many discreet elbow nudges as well as onstage shouts, chases, children’s gyrations, toppled chairs and impassioned speeches. I sigh, remembering this. I can only hope that the principals (and ensemble) were too focused on their craft to have noticed Mom and her “Crucible Sampler” approach. Suffice it to say, she’ll never live it down. Let’s move on.

Thankfully, no amount of sleep deprivation would have prevented someone with Advanced Armitage Affliction from staying glued to the performance. The overriding impression upon my first viewing, was this: Richard Armitage is wondrously devastating in person! Pictures and even video, for me, no longer do the man justice. It’s in the way he blinks his eyelashes, the intensity of his gaze, the movements of his throat muscles, the elegance of his ears, the eloquence of his hands. We are all aware of his powerful magnetism on screen, but in person that physicality just bowled me over to a degree that I had not anticipated. By all that’s holy, he’s gorgeous.

The moment he appeared in Act 1, charging up the stairs snarling at his servant, I experienced abdominal flutters and tachycardia for several minutes just from his presence. I felt I couldn’t draw a deep breath. I began to wonder if I would be able to forget he was Richard Armitage, but his performance was so magnificent that of course it happened. Within minutes, he was no longer Armitage, but John Proctor. And with John Proctor, at least RA’s portrayal, I fell into the kind of love I feel for John Thornton. As much as I admire Daniel Day-Lewis, his Proctor couldn’t hold a candle to Armitage. (I’ll take Hawkeye over DDL’s Proctor any day of the week. But I’ll take RA’s Proctor over every other role he or any other tremendously compelling actor has done to date.)

That being said, there just aren’t words to describe how fantastic this play was for me. I was enthralled and absorbed completely. To my surprise, I would have loved this production even without Richard. This speaks to the strength of the entire ensemble, not a weak link anywhere, as well as the absolute beauty of the choreography, lighting, music, and the spare, rustic set in the round. Yael Farber is a Rock Star! I will gladly see anything she’s involved with in the future, given the chance. Absolutely the most incredible play I’ve ever seen.

Naturally, Richard Armitage took it from fabulous to “out of the ballpark“…. I was by turns moved and touched, frightened and miserable, tearful and laughing. He was so vulnerable, so broken, so exhausted at different moments that I felt powerfully compelled to leave my seat, to go to Proctor and comfort him. (That would have been even more of a gaffe than sleeping in the front row. Glad I refrained.) I was particularly struck by his performance at the water scene. I really expected to be ogling (gawping a la Quentin Letts) during that scene, and I did, just a little. But what really fascinated me were those lovely little gasps and convulsive shudders as he washed. It was beautifully done.

So yes, I was electrified by Richard Armitage’s live performance. When the man gets physical, it’s terrifying. He chases Abigail in one scene, Mary Warren in another… I actually experienced skipped heartbeats as he rounded the stage! That chemistry between Proctor and Abigail was hot, and it was hot in a guilty, wretched way. The chemistry between Proctor and Elizabeth was also potent, but in a powerfully poignant and wistful, almost unrequited way. I ached for them. The play in its entirety was devastating, and I will share my impressions of some the later Acts in future posts.

Much to my astonishment, there was a standing ovation, but it didn’t happen until the end of the applause, when the cast came out for the second time. This baffled me, as I was ready to stand immediately, despite my shakiness at the conclusion. With Mom barely able to keep her eyes open, and myself bowled over and completely overwrought from my first experience of Armitage in living action, we decided to do the stage door another night. We returned to the hotel, which was a very short walk from The Old Vic. Mom was funny. She insisted she loved it. I told her she was in for a real treat next time, because it was even better awake. We had to laugh. Despite the humor, I was already touched with a vague apprehension that I had seriously underestimated the satisfactory number of times to see The Crucible, yet it was sold out. Simultaneously exhilarated and exhausted, I couldn’t sleep.