This is a mammoth of a post, but I didn’t want to chop it up, but it definitely wins the award for most words AgzyM has ever tried to squeeze in at one time.
I make no apologies for the rambling nature of this post and understand completely if you skim it and get to the good stuff (meaning RA pics).
For that purpose I have separated the post into parts so you can just omit the sections that are yawn-inducing to you.
I just wanted to save as many thoughts on my stay in London in one place, therefore it’s quite emotionally masturbatory in it’s nature ;)
I will also be focusing on the Armitage angle of the play which certainly DOES NOT mean that the other cast members were not phenomenal, especially the female leads.
If you follow me on Twitter (@AgzyM) you’ll have probably seen most of the pics before.
Obviously, any pictures from the play itself are not my own.
EDIT: The title of this post is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the reviewer who had described RA fans as fat, middle-aged white women.
Although I don’t necessarily feel I subscribe to that idea, nor do I agree that there is a common denominator for all RA fans other than admiring Richard Armitage, if that’s the way some people wish to describe me/us and being a proud Armitage admirer, so be it :)
I’ve been back from London for a couple of days now, nursing my feet back to health after walking thousands of miles, trying to sift through (and wrap my brain around) all the wonderful experiences I’ve been fortunate to accumulate.
As many of you may know in April I was lucky enough to receive tickets for 2 consecutive performances of The Crucible at The Old Vic for my Name’s Day (see, it’s good to be Polish sometimes…).
Well actually I was asked what I’d like to get this year, I said I really can’t afford to see Richard on stage, but I really can’t afford not to and my family rallied around me to make it happen.
Because I was arranging the tickets pretty early on, I had my pick of seating and I must admit I chose pretty bloody well…but more about that later.
I flew in to London on the 6th early morning so had the whole Sunday free from any Armitage onslaught, but I did decide to check out The Old Vic (as any good soldier preparing for battle would) and my commute to and from the venue.
I had scheduled to do my shopping that day (didn’t buy anything from my list), then made my obligatory visit to the National Portrait Gallery and slowly crossed the Thames and walked to Waterloo Station.
Dunno about you, but I wouldn’t mind all cities being adorned by RA images (so if you’re a politician make it happen if you want my vote…).
The mind boggles how many people have actually touched, fondles
and licked these posters, just to be on the safe side I restrained myself and only snapped away at them ;)
I have to admit I did not encounter any Crucible posters around London, so seeing them proudly displayed around the theatre made my heart
(and other parts of me…) swell.
We had stayed at a hotel just down the road from The Old Vic in December 2012 when we flew in to see The Hobbit: AUJ and every time we passed it I’d lose my fangirling shizz because it is the place of The 24-hour Play Richard had taken part in a few years prior (I’d also go all gooey when passing the Dorchester too, so I’m quite an embarrassment to be seen in public with ).
It was a mind trip to know I would actually be seeing the man himself in the flesh in the same place a year and a half later (see kids, dreams do come true!).
While I was checking out The Vic I also made a mental note of the stage door which looks harmless and innocent by daylight, but let me tell you the mood changes somewhat once Richard steps out of the door ;)
Also, don’t you feel a tad jealous of that parking meter that gets to check out Richard 6 times a week, usually the back of him?
Anyway, the following day I planned my museum/art gallery schedule so I could swing by the Vic to pick up my tickets earlier, so I first headed to Tate Modern for the Matisse Cut Out exhibition (which I highly recommend), then walked to The Cut.
I felt like a lucky bugger as I picked up my tickets, especially seeing that since the plan had been forged I was on the lookout for some catastrophe that would see everything go up in smoke- lost reservations, delayed/cancelled flights, understudy performing on the night etc.
I had become so superstitious in the
days months leading up to my London trip I dared not do anything to mess up my juju.
When I got this baby in my grubby hands I didn’t want to let go… but then I did out of fear that my sweaty hands would smudge the ink ;)
As the nice lady was handing me my ticket, she told me that they were only just printing the Tuesday ones and they were on the letter “J” so I’d have to come back later to collect it.
Now, the ticket clearly asks you to make sure all the info is correct and everything is in order before you leave, which is easier said than done when you hold this precious in your grasp.
Long story short, turned out later that my Tuesday ticket had been printed out automatically and was attached to the other.
Oooppss, must pay closer attention in future…
Anyway, there I was thinking:
Willy Wonka, eat your heart out! I’ve got my golden tickets right here!
I proceeded to going down my exhibitions list for the day (Human Factor at the Hayward Gallery, you can give it a miss, Victoria & Albert Museum, which has a very interesting history of fashion display and my absolute favorite- Banksy The Unauthorised Retrospective at Sotheby’s which I highly recommend).
I was to meet a fellow RA Admirer at the Pit Bar in the theatre before the play, so I took no chances of being late and headed that way around 6pm.
I ordered a glass of Merlot (hell, I was celebrating, right?!? although, in hindsight, a mixture of fangirl excitement, Richard Armitage and booze maybe wasn’t the smartest) and waited for Ms H, her daughter and a friend.
Unfortunately, as the crowds descended we missed each other and didn’t end up meeting until we were seated inside the theatre.
Let me just say that I truly regret not spending more time as Ms H is the type of person I could probably chat for 6 hours with without even making a dent in the topics we could cover.
I was extremely lucky to get an absolutely beautiful seat, first row, smack in the middle.
The play started at 7.30 sharp, with the fog machine switched on and lights dimmed.
The stage (which isn’t a stage at all, just a large opening in the middle between seats) consisted of nothing but wooden chairs.
As the actors entered from the aisle opposite me, I was straining my eyes to see the bearded beauty.
He was one of the last members of cast to enter, but there was no mistaking that silhouette in the fog, I have after all spent a few hours of my life (Ok, maybe a bit more than a few…) paying close attention to images of Richard, so I felt quite well versed ;)
I’m not going to offer a play review, I feel there are many who can do the job much better than I, but I can in turn offer some random thoughts.
The man is HUGE on stage!
It’s like he takes up most of the space and towers over everyone, exuding a force that you can’t help but be both drawn to and frightened of.
Everything from his costume (a heavy coat with patched holes, very sexy boots and unfortunately baggy pants, then he strips to pants and a loose shirt) to his voice (which wasn’t as deep as I thought it would be for the first part of the play, which was probably due to some throat issues he had apparently been experiencing) screams strength.
If ever there was a part suited for Armitage post Thorin, John Proctor is it.
What I found interesting was catching small glimpses of other RA characters in his performance.
The accent brought to mind John Standring, some scowls were very John Thornton and Thorin.
It was like tiny visits from old friends and I was joking that it’d make a great drinking game: a shot of vodka every time an RA character would pop up.
Let’s just say I’d leave the theatre well and truly sloshed ;)
BTW, I am in no way alluding that Proctor is anything but a well thought through independent Armitage character, it’s just when you’ve spent so much time watching various RA roles and certain mannerisms tend to creep up, a fan can’t help but notice.
Truth be told, because I was sitting in the first row with no barriers between me and the actors (seriously, I had to watch my feet so the cast wouldn’t step on them), it took a while for my brain to process that I’m actually not watching this on TV or on my laptop, that this was really happening then and there, mere meters from me.
The benefit of first row seats, especially the one I was parked in, is that you are less than a meter away from some of the most beautiful and powerful Proctor moments.
As much as I was swept away by the story, I couldn’t help but register certain…hmmm… shall we say physical traits of Mr A…
Chest- very hairy, more so than I had ever imagined.
Actually, the biggest surprise for me was just how huge he was in the chest and especially the shoulders.
Somehow, apart from buff Porter, I hadn’t imagined that would be the case (but you learn something new everyday).
Let’s just say I wasn’t the only one who thought those shoulders and back would be a perfect place to press your head to ;)
The stomach is flat as a board with an adorable roll of skin when he leans over (don’t judge me, he was kneeling two meters away, what else was I supposed to look at???).
I was also enchanted by how his middle finger are almost the same length as their neighbours, but that’s a quirk of mine ;)
Anyway, I was quite choked up by the time the actors were taking their bows and couldn’t help but leap up from my seat clapping as Richard stayed behind to take his final bows.
He has this adorable habit (as he repeated it the following night) of bowing one way, turning around and bowing the other and then he does this funny thing with his hands as he takes a bow towards the two sides.
Very thespian of you, Mr A (actually I typed it My A, but went back to correct it as, well, I should be so lucky…).
Ms H had already pointed the best exit that would lead me straight to the stage door and into the queue, so I dashed out of my seat to procure my place.
If you’re wondering, it’s the exit to the left closest to the stage ;)
Much has been said of the stage door experience in the past week or so, so let me share with you my thoughts.
Firstly, it’s orderly and well behaved which is a bloody blessing, but it’s also quite a stressful experience.
We waited about 15 minutes before Richard came out, flagged by two Old Vic security men.
Please keep in mind that the man had just spent almost 4 hours performing in a very challenging play and the queue went all the way down the street, so that no doubt impacts the interaction Richard has with the people waiting.
It’s extremely rushed and I think RA makes his way down the line in under 20 minutes, which tells you plenty about the tempo.
On top of that, on Monday there were at least 2 groups of autograph hunters (one were standing right behind me, that’s how I know who they were), so I would imagine that puts a damper on the experience.
The best advice I can offer anyone who’s planning on going is: BE PREPARED and TAKE A PIC FIRST.
I’ve heard of someone who pressed the off button on their camera instead of taking a pic, I took a rather disturbing selfie of Richard although I have no idea how to (believe me, that picture is a catastrophe!).
From what I’ve observed and, unfortunately, experienced, the moment Richard signs your poster/program he moves on to the next person.
It goes by so unbelievably fast that I before could even ask for a pic, he was gone.
Picture first, then an autograph!
Numerous people (me included) had to join the back of the queue again which makes me wonder that if the tempo wasn’t so severe the stage door would actually go much faster in the long run if he’d slow down a tad.
My one huge regret was that neither I nor anyone within earshot actually had the time to congratulate Richard or thank him for being…well, him!
In some regards I feel like we were there in line asking yet more of him after experiencing that brilliant performance without offering as much as a Thank You, but to say that the environment wasn’t conducive to any form of verbal exchange is a staggering understatement.
The chances are, had I started speaking not only would I have not got Richard’s attention anyway, but I wouldn’t have an autograph or pic either.
As to more Richard details, he doesn’t come off quite as huge as he does on stage, but definitely not gaunt.
He was wearing a checkered red and white shirt and a jacket which made him look rather smart.
The only crack in his clear focus to sign/take pictures/move on came when he encountered the autograph hunters behind me.
As I was waiting for Richard I actually thought they seemed a bit out of place- young men dressed very casually, but figured they may be Tolkien fans drawn to the play by the allure of Thorin.
It seems Richard is much more savvy than little ol’ naive me.
He took one look at them as they clutch the 8×10 glossy pics of Richard, gave them a sideways glance (which was quite sexy), gave them a smirk (also sexy…) and said: I’m not signing that! and moved on.
I think this image is the one that’s lodged in my memory the most from the stage door experience- firstly because I felt it was the only time Richard had broken from the “fan interaction” persona but also because it made me realise what issues he has to deal with now that his career has entered yet another stage.
Oh, and I’d be pissed off too if someone was trying to make a quick buck off me.
Actually, as a fan who had flown in to see the play against many odds and for whom meeting Richard was a dream come true, I was/am pissed off of people trying to take advantage!
May this be a lesson to all of those who are tempted to buy an RA autograph on ebay, they aren’t really obtained in the best manner and having Richard sign something right next to you is much more valuable.
Anyway, the tally from my Monday Crucible experience was meeting the adorable Ms H, seeing a bloody great play, one signed poster, one very bad Richard and I selfie.
I had arranged to meet Ms Sally_Boots on Tuesday afternoon, so I had enough time to pop into The National Gallery to pay a traditional visit to Holbein’s The Ambassadors and all the other brilliant art on display, while (traditionally) avoiding the Medieval Art rooms (what can I say, not my cup of tea…).
The plan for that afternoon was to meet close to The Old Vic, grab a bite to eat, maybe get lucky and see Richard on his way to the theatre (long story short, we failed on all accounts and ended up having a quick Sainsbury’s sandwich standing in the rain next to an RA Crucible poster, we’re classy that way…).
It was a pleasure to meet Sally_Boots, you may recognise her from Twitter and she had written a few posts on this blog for Fanstra4.
I knew she’d be lovely and she didn’t disappoint :)
As we were waiting, we spotted a familiar face scoping out The Old Vic.
We recognised the Anglophile lady with her family walking around and, I can’t lie, we were more than a little jealous, convinced she was probably there to interview Richard.
As I’m not what you would call shy, as we passed I asked her whether she was the Anglophile lady (yup, it was a rhetorical question).
Turns out Marlise was incredibly friendly and we stood there chatting away while I was discreetly checking out her hair (which is gorgeous by the way).
We had ourselves a good ol’ chinwag about Richard (who else?) and I can confirm that Marlise is one of us- a proud Armitage Admirer excited about seeing the play the following night.
After downing a bag of salt and vinegar crisps,bought the obligatory posters (trust me, you can’t choose just one out of the three available) it was time to go to Salem.
As we were taking our seats I was curious what it would be like to see the play from a different angle.
The picture of The Old Vic seating isn’t very accurate- there’s no stage per se and there’s an aisle running down the centre on the other side, which meant the actors would enter and exit right next to me.
My seat was a mirror reflection of the one from the night before and I was wondering whether the actors/play favoured any side in particular (nope, both sides are brilliant in their own way).
I actually have a confession to make.
As I was booking my tickets in April in somewhat of a fevered state (I’m a fangirl damn it, I cannot keep calm!), I knew I had booked a fab ticket for Monday but thought I had screwed up with Tuesday’s seat.
I was sure I had accidentally booked a balcony seat and had spent a good 2 months secretly tormenting myself that with my pick of seats I had chosen such a bad one.
Turns out all of the online plans I had checked out were from The Old Vic prior to the removal of the official stage, therefore creating “the circle” and the addition of seats from the back.
When I realised that all was well I felt so much relief, but it’s a lesson learned that I need to focus more even where Richard Armitage is concerned.
By the way, the Lilian Baylis Circle was so high up it gave me vertigo just looking at it, so bear that in mind when booking tickets.
Talking about seating, Sally_Boots was in for a shock as she could have sworn she purchase a first row seat to the side, but it turned out there were actually two or three rows in front of her.
A quick online research confirms that they did end up adding a few rows on both sides, no doubt figuring that they didn’t need the side space for the play, so they plonked a few more rows there.
Brilliant if you were lucky to buy tickets late and scored first row, not so brilliant if you bought first row months beforehand only to be shoved back.
As the fogs distended and the play started, this time around I was much more savvy as I knew what to expect, where RA would pop out from, when to tuck my feet in so they wouldn’t be trampled etc.
Anyway, I was so thrilled to see that play from a different angle.
If you have front seats you will at some point have your view blocked by an actor, so anything I may have missed the first time around, I more than made up for the second.
I was particularly intrigued by the now famous shirtless washing scene (don’t you dare judge me!).
On Monday I got a full frontal view from a few meters away, on Tuesday I got to see it from the back, and let me tell you, that is my favorite angle ;)
I felt the play had gone even smoother this time and Richard’s voice was much stronger which makes me think he’d been doing his best drinking tea with lemon and honey to sooth his throat from all the yelling (and much yelling there is, believe me, I’ve developed a new fetish for it!).
Having seen the play twice I marvel at the fitness level of the actors.
This is an incredibly demanding play, beautifully choreographed and I image they go home each night with fresh new bumps and bruises.
As I failed at obtaining a decent pic with Richard the night before, I vowed to do better this time around.
I was standing in line at the stage door with Ms Sally_Boots and we were joined by Ms Nina, a resident of London who sometimes comes to the stage door to meet other RA Admirers and always gives Richard an adorable card :)
Without going into too much detail, this was also the night of the now infamous “Richard is so rude but I’ll post a picture with him and me grinning like a maniac” lady.
Let me just say, she was not there for the play that night, nor is she an RA fan.
She was there with a specific aim (which she didn’t achieve) and I’m much annoyed to learn she’s the one who interrupted my pic with Richard and the reason it came out blurry.
A plague on both your houses madam, that wasn’t cool!
The stage door was just as hectic, but after experiencing non-RA fans with an agenda clearly other than to have the pleasure of meeting Richard, I’m a little less surprised at the rushed attitude he adopts.
Long story short, I didn’t get my perfect pic, but what I did get makes me exceedingly happy and grateful.
One pic came out fuzzy, but my grin says it all…
Here’s the other:
A huge thank you to both Sally_Boots and Nina for trying to make my dream of a good picture of Richard and I come true!
I very much appreciate it ladies :)
Tally of Tuesday: Meeting Sally_Boots and Nina, two wonderful Armitage Admirers, getting to see the play from a different perspective, a signed Crucible program, and, f*cking hell, actually seeing Richard Armitage in the flesh!
Not bad for a quick visit to London, right?
All in all, this trip was one of the best moments for me, hands down.
Given half the chance (or if/when I win the lottery) I’d do it all over again with relish.
I enjoyed meeting fellow Armitage Admirers who are even nicer in person, the play is quite possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen (don’t get me started, we’ll be here all night), I came so close to the object of my fangirling affections (and didn’t lose my rag, which is important).
I feel very fortunate (the agnostic in me doesn’t want to say “blessed”) to have accumulated so many fab experiences and, subsequently, memories that shall last me a lifetime.
My dad picked me up from the airport and as I tried to put into words all that I had experienced he said something that made me teary: Seeing how much you enjoyed yourself and how you took advantage of this opportunity, that trip to London was worth every penny!
Ahhhh…. thanks dad :)
I know that many would love to have the chance to go on this adventure and let me add insult to injury by saying that this is really worth begging, borrowing (NOT stealing though!) for.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for everyone who’s still trying to figure out how the heck to get themselves to The Old Vic- stranger things can happen, or have happened if my adventure is anything to go by ;)