A couple of years and plays later…
A friend of mine tells me she’s bought tickets for the Crucible @Old Vic and I decide to trod along for one date, since I’ve never been at the Old Vic and haven’t seen the play before. I decide for a cheap ticket in the circle, hopefully with no massively obstructed view, stick the date in my calendar and forget about it.
A few weeks later, apparently before press night my friend tell me there are tickets for £10 available still, but I refuse on grounds of being too tired to make the effort and that I had a ticket anyways in a few weeks’ time.
Oh, the stuff we end up regretting!!! If I only knew then what I know now and could turn back time.
And then the day arrives. Plenty of five star reviews in the press, so looks like it will be good and I’m very much looking forward to the experience. The theatre is one of the oldest in London and a very small venue, which from experience I prefer. I’ve got some concerns over legroom and comfort as other old theatres in London have not been very kind to my knees and back in the past.
But it’s Friday, I’m finally off work, the weather is warm, I’m meeting friends and very much looking forward to spending an interesting evening together. I hit Waterloo and there it is! The Old Vic, looking great from the outside against the blue but cloudy sky and I stand there from across the street looking at the building and the posters. And suddenly I feel almost like a tourist on vacation and lucky to be here. On impulse I take a picture of the Old Vic with my phone, after all it’s my first visit 🙂 Since I’m the first one here I pick up my ticket in what feels like a tiny foyer and after a friendly chat with one of the ushers head to the downstairs bar. Friendliness seems to rain supreme here and the bartender even quickly whips up one of my favourite cocktails. Time to relax while I study the massive poster of the inside of the theatre they have there, looks beautiful and very small, can’t wait to be inside. I’ve seen comments about the play being very long, but that is not something that worries me ( Wagner – Ring, Meistersinger, Parsifal etc ;-))) remember opera? 3h 30 min is an easy ride in terms of duration 😉 quite the contrary, it means things will not get rushed. Just hope my neighbours won’t be fidgety ones as I know I’ll need to concentrate on the text since all I managed in a rush a day before were the first 2,3 pages of the play.
And then we are on our way up and I get suddenly hit by wafts of fragrant smoke which remind me of church in an eerie way. But not as sickly as incense, actually on second thought, it’s more like a fire on wet leaves in the woods in autumn. It’s a beautiful effect, it draws you in and you are equally anxious and excited to step into the mists. We walk up and there is suddenly Laurence Olivier in a photo on the wall… And suddenly I remember as clear as if it was yesterday, watching the old black and white Hamlet movie!
In my seat I look around at the rags covering all railings and you already feel transported to another place and time. I also become aware of the low rumbling noise, which creates a feeling of almost breath-taking anticipation. It’s uncomfortable and ominous and leaves you unsettled. The stage is literally a round space in the middle of the audience and I have the perfect view from above, set seems to be reduced to a couple of chairs which is fine by me. The music ramps up and we are off…
Interval – I love it! Everything about it, the light and lack thereof, the dark costumes, every single actor on stage and their amazing diction, the clarity of their voices that reaches me as if they were right next to me. Bar very very few words I got everything from start to finish. And that is just the images and sounds. Who are all these people? What do they hide, what will they do next, there is so much subtext in every line, in every pause, my head is spinning. I can’t even breath deeply and start asking myself all these questions and we are already back for part 2…
Applause!!!!! Why??? What is wrong with all these people????? Why do they need to jump up instantly, where are they rushing to? How can they run back to the streets of London just like that? How can there be anything but silence after this? It’s all death, desperation, disillusionment there and inside. I somehow move out because I’m end of the row so I have to, but I can’t stop crying. I find myself downstairs, waiting for the others and struggle to get a hold on it but I can’t really. I can see in front of my eyes life destroyed…. the deserted town and farms, the animals on the street, the crying babies, Goody Proctor in her cell, holding on to the growing child in her belly, Reverend Hale praying for life, searching for some answer that isn’t there to be found, frail Rebecca nurse stumbling but serene and John Proctor, tall and tortured, grimy,bloody, being dragged away and those eyes… burning!
To be continued…
July 21st, August 15th, 23rd
The Crucible / Arthur Miller
Cast and production credits:
Reverend Parris Michael Thomas
His daughter, Betty Maram Corlett
His slave, Tituba Sarah Niles
His niece Abigail Williams Samantha Colley
Their neighbours are:
Thomas Putnam Harry Attwell
Ann Putnam Rebecca Saire
Rebecca Nurse Ann Firbank
Francis Nurse Neil Salvage
Giles Corey William Gaunt
Reverend John Hale Adrian Schiller
John Proctor Richard Armitage
His wife, Elizabeth Proctor Anna Madeley
Their servant, Mary Warren Natalie Gavin
Susanna Walcott Daisy Waterstone
Mercy Lewis Zara White
Villagers co-opted by the court:
Ezekiel Cheever Alan Vicary
Marshal Herrick Tom Peters
A villager, Sarah Good Paddy Navin
The voice of Martha Corey Catherine Hammond
Judge Hathorne Christopher Godwin
Deputy Governor Danforth Jack Ellis
Ensemble Hannah Hutch
The designer is Soutra Gilmour
Lighting design is by Tim Lutkin and music and sound design by Richard Hammarton
Movement is designed by Imogen Knight
The Crucible is directed by Yael Farber