Theatre Review: Richard Armitage and ‘The Crucible’ – A Summer to Remember

When I first read ‘The Crucible’ it was nearly six years ago and was part of my A-Level Drama exam. I was doing a monologue and had to thumb through some pretty tedious stuff before finally striking gold with Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible.’ The scene I performed was the first conversation between John Proctor and Abigail Williams and it involved me pacing around a chair with an invisible John sitting on it, while I hurled abuse at ‘him’.
I was thrown back to that time on Saturday, September 13th. It was Richard Armitage’s last day on ‘The Crucible’ and after much and I mean much – perseverance on my part, my Mum finally secured tickets for the matinee performance, which was to be the penultimate. I would, of course have dipped into my student loan so me and my sister could go…but as it was Richard Armitage, aka John Thornton, I think you’ll all agree that I needed good seats. Plus we live in Greater London and my Mum would’ve driven us up. So there is that too. Plus…I’m a graduate and did I mention the word ‘loan?’
Now, I was sauntering past a poster in Leicester Square tube station when I saw a poster of Armitage looking all broody with ‘The Crucible’ stamped across in brash white lettering. I already knew he was playing John Proctor. I knew it would a perfect role for him! This guy has that whole, tortured, passionate and did I mention broody resonance down to an art! And I knew he’d knock the shouting scenes out of the park. Thus my mission was born. I was going to see this play, even if my life depended on it. I immediately started planning my ‘not-so-subtle’ hint dropping moments in my head during the rest of the ride home. It was met with little success but it was okay…it was only May…we still had four months to go. It was only when I mentioned it to my driving teacher (another Armitage fan)
After much pleading, begging and bargaining – which included a driving test that I didn’t pass (epic fail on my part – literally) I pulled out the big guns and held my Mum hostage until I got the tickets. (Not literally obviously….I didn’t pull out any guns – Jesus, I’m not a lunatic!)
So, the big day finally rolls around and myself with my Mum and sister all pack into the car and drive up to Southbank. This is the third time I’ve been there in the past four months. I had my graduation at Royal Festival Hall this Summer so the area is always going to have good memories for me (even more so now). We even drove up there on the opening night of ‘The Crucible’ to scope out the place before my graduation and lo and behold – we drove right past the Old Vic Theatre with Richard Armitage’s face glowering down upon us.
My sister and I could’ve kicked ourselves! We missed a chance to glimpse him by a whisker.
As we drove up for the play, I listened to ‘Northbound train’ which the song playing in the final scene on the ‘North and South’ BBC adaptation. If you know what I’m talking about it’s that scene.
I might sound like one of those craze-obsessed fans but I’ve been a massive fan of Armitage since Robin Hood but it’s grown more since I watched North and South. I fell in love with the series and then read the book. It’s my favourite book and brilliant piece of literature. I even ended up writing about it as part of my extended essay for my final year at Uni and if I’m honest I have Richard Armitage’s portrayal of John Thornton to thank for that. I’m not saying this to suck up, I genuinely mean it. I’m just sad I never got the chance to tell him this as I found out that he doesn’t do meet and greets after matinee performances, there’s no time. So, if by some divine miracle he reads this tiny little blog – thanks for the inspiration.
What I loved about the Crucible was the atmosphere. The audience reacted in perfect moments. They punctuated the one liners with genuine laughter and I could feel them hold their breath during the most dramatic acts.
My Mum’s reaction to the whole experience was, “That Richard Armitage can really act can’t he? You see so many plays and musicals where you can tell they’re just ‘acting’ but this guy really believed he was John Proctor.” I responded with an obvious “Yes Mum. I know. That’s the whole point.”
And it is.
I could sense the passion that Armitage possesses from this role. It radiates off him during each scene. His presence alone holds the audience’s attention captive and he brings a fierce energy into a dark and obscure story. I’m telling you now, if he doesn’t get nominated or win an Olivier award for this performance – I’m going to flip a table!

This is me signing off, until next time… #KeepWatching

@RCArmitage – Richard Armitage


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