Theatre at the Movies: The Crucible

Crucible Digital Theatre ImageIt’s really amazing to me that I haven’t seen Richard Armitage on a movie screen since The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was out in 2014. But what a great experience it was on the weekend to see The Crucible larger than life and to even meet up with a fellow fan!

My older son and I had made plans to go when tickets for the Vancouver showing first went on sale, but we almost couldn’t make it — my younger son was playing in the provincial ball hockey championships! As luck would have it (bad or good depending on your perspective), his team didn’t make it past Saturday, and my Sunday became free. So, we tried to decide what time to arrive:

“I think we should get there an hour ahead.”

“But Mum, all the other plays you saw at the movies had hardly any people.”

“Ahh. But I have faith in the power of Richard Armitage!”

As it turned out, I shouldn’t have. We got there only 20 minutes ahead, giggling at the fact that the two people behind the counter were waiting to serve popcorn to only the two of us! “Is anyone in the theatre?” I asked. “Well, around 5 people,” they replied. In fact, by the time the show started, I’ll optimistically guess that a mere 20 people were in the audience!

RA BadgeMind you, this made it much easier to meet up with fellow-fan, Teuchter. While we’ve met on-line before in the Comments sections of various blogs, this is the first time we’ve met in person — or even met any fellow RA fans in person! It was really nice to chat in the intermission and after the show! We were also able to meet each others’ sons and Teuchter’s daughter-in-law too. Maybe we’ll end up at the same theatre again when Pilgrimage comes out in August! Oh, and by the way, the meet-up was only made possible by my wearing the blingy RA badge made by Guylty!

When the lights went down, we were carried away into the stark, dark atmosphere of The Crucible, as directed by Yael Farber. While I’d seen the digital version on my TV screen, this was so much more riveting. My son had only read the play in high school and said that he enjoyed this production so much more than he thought he would. The three and a half hours flew by, with the audience completely quiet throughout as they intently watched the screen. Some of the things that struck us were:

  • John Proctor as embodied by Richard Armitage … Coming up the stairs, so strong and proud and sure of himself. Progressing through the play into the man with bowed head and downcast eyes, seeming to shrink and then to rise up again as he finds the place where he must take a stand. Given the intensity with which Armitage plays the role, it is no wonder that stage door footage shows exhaustion and politeness only by rote.
  • Samantha Colley as Abigail Williams… Astonishing. Hard to believe that she was just out of drama school. My son was struck with how, even when the attention is not on her, she never loses her focus, with her gaze fixed on Proctor through all her various emotions. The scene when she jumps on the bed shouting of seeing Goody Hawkins with the Devil, which fuelled the mass hysteria, really stuck with him too.
  • The first scene between John and Abigail… His fight against the desire for her; and her hope that he will still need her. Powerful, and impossible to tear your eyes away.
  • The evolution of Reverend Hale (played by Adrian Schiller) … Doing his job as he is sure he must, but descending into a broken man who knows what they are doing is wrong.
  • Danforth (played by Jack Ellis) … Trapping everyone into the “damned if you do; damned if you don’t” scenario.
  • The girls repeating the words of Mary Warren (Natalie Gavin) in unison… So well choreographed and evoking such a feeling of “no escape” for everyone in the court.
  • The final kiss between Proctor and Elizabeth (Anna Madeley) … This struck me so much more watching it on the movie screen than on my TV screen. A rival for the North and South train scene, with love finally found.

I’ve read people saying that after watching The Crucible in the theatre in London, they were emotionally worn out and exhausted, and I felt the same by the time I arrived home from this event. My son has been thinking about the final scene where Proctor reclaims his name since we saw it. He even searched up Daniel Day Lewis’ performance of the final scene on-line, but after watching it said, “No”… Richard Armitage did it better.

Have any of you noticed that in the filmed version, Proctor’s handcuff magically switches from one hand to the other and then back again? I’d noticed it when I watched the digital copy and then couldn’t help waiting for it during that highly emotional final scene on the big screen! The result of mashing together performances from three nights.

In the intermission, they advertised the free Crucible on Screen website, although really the most interesting thing on it is the video showing how The Old Vic was transformed into theatre in the round. What I would really have loved to see is something about the actual filming of The Crucible — the decisions around positioning and number of cameras; how they accommodated the audience and the cameras together; the impact of filming on the actors; etc. There was a short paragraph about it in this interview in The Guardian from December 2014, but I’d love to know more.

So glad I went to see this. It was a really wonderful experience, and so much more profound than watching it via Digital Theatre on my TV. Plus I was able to meet up with Teuchter!

9 thoughts on “Theatre at the Movies: The Crucible

  1. Pingback: Castlevania and a Smoky Vacation | I'm Feeling This

  2. Yes, I was blown away as well after seeing it live and blown away again when I saw it on the big screen with my mother two years ago (and she was blown away by it too at the time)! I’m so glad you got to experience it on the big screen and that you got your first fan meet-up!

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  3. (Sorry for only getting to comment now.) Your review really brings me back to watching TC in the cinema, too – and in the theatre. It is extremely well done, and in many ways probably even better than the live experience because you get to see the faces of the characters in close-up. TC on screen definitely convinced me of the merits of taped theatre productions.
    And so glad that you got to meet Teuchter at the cinema – especially as I was too late with shipping the badge to her.

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    • No worries… I’m glad you were able to enjoy a nice long vacation!
      My son and I really enjoyed the play. And you’re right… we could really focus in on the nuances of expression in the actors’ faces. Meeting Teuchter was definitely a bonus! It was a very small audience, so we didn’t have too much trouble meeting up, especially with my RA pin!

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