Photo by Chrissy Lampard Special Correspondent for Richard Armitage US
Although I didn’t manage to have a moment with Mr. Armitage after his US stage debut at the 92nd St. Y, I did see him perform in the Pinter/Proust production.
OK, I titled this post as RA on stage, but my first draft was all about the production. So let me start over with RA as focus. I will follow with my thoughts on the production, which you can skip if you’re a big Pinter/Proust fan. <sorry!>
Chrissy Lampard’s photo as Special Correspondent for Richard Armitage US
First of all, Richard spent 90% of the time sitting in the back of the stage in dim light. When you see these pretty pictures by Chrissy Lampard think about the fact that what she photographed is about 50% of the times he was actually speaking on stage. He had a few more scenes (most memorably as the male prostitute in the brothel and with an eyepatch at a party!) but they were very very brief. He did stand on a platform stage left for some of the time. He stood very quietly for long periods of time. Otherwise he was pretty much sitting in the dim light in the back of the stage, leafing through his script, or looking at the other actors performing.
So. Although there was very very little of Richard’s voice to listen to (in my opinion, of course!) there were a lot of opportunities to watch him on stage. He has a palpable stage presence. He has a lot of focused energy. Sometimes I felt he could have projected his voice a bit more, but even far back in the theater you could always hear him. That voice!! <sigh>
I thought his best bits were the smaller bits, not Swann. That’s because the main story with Swann, and Marcel, and Odette , and Albertine, and Leah the lesbian actress (played by Annabel Capper) was so uninteresting to me. I would sum it up as lovers accusing each other of infidelity, most of the time with having affairs with lovers of the same sex. Swann, for example, spends a lot of his limited time upset at the fact that his true love had sex with other women. Really?
Still, Richard managed to smoulder and seduce the woman of his choice. And more than half the audience, no doubt. <faints> I am well on record for thinking Mr. Armitage is physically just about perfect. When I saw him at the Hobbit Fan Event, he surprised me by his appearance, looking very withdrawn and almost frail to me. On Thursday, however, he was back to his robust looking self. And he moves absolutely like a dancer. Incredibly graceful. There’s a video clip of the scene where he is seated and follows Odette with his head and moves slowly into getting up and following her in one, long, graceful motion. See the video (by Chrissy Lampard again), here:
Truly graceful. I would love love love to see him in a proper play. If he ever thought he couldn’t be the romantic lead, I think the video clips of him at the 92nd St. Y show conclusively otherwise. That is all.
Now here is the part where I share my probably uninteresting thoughts about the production. I know that I am unexceptionally educated and I warn you not to accept my views as a *real* review of the production. It’s like someone who hates fantasy reviewing The Hobbit movies. You just don’t get it. That’s me in relation to this production.
The stories I’ve read about the production have been very excited about the production itself. As someone who is not a fan of Pinter, and hasn’t actually read Proust, I was less enthusiastic. I will chalk up my feelings about the overall production to my limited intellectual capabilities. I am not an English major, a filmmaker, or connected in any way with the theater. To me, this production was, let me say, strange. OK, I didn’t get it.
Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t find it enjoyable in some parts (aside from RA), the actors were very good, without exception, and their readings of some parts were very funny. Although I’m not intellectual, I’m pretty intelligent, so I can usually understand what the production is trying to say. In this case, though, I really don’t. There was a lot of posing. Slow delivery of lines. The first half was fairly interesting, even to me. The actors were very animated and, although it made no narrative sense, the short scenes were entertaining. Towards the end of the second half, though, I thought I would start screaming. It was incredibly tedious. Marcel and Albertine reiterating a conversation that had already taken place several times. About whether she slept with women. On and on and on about it.
I’m truly truly sorry if I am being unfair. Again, it is so not the fault of the actors, who I thought were terrific. It is the script itself, I think. I did not attend the pre-show talk by the director. Maybe I would have a different opinion if I did. I admit that I put no effort into understanding the play. My interest truly was in seeing Richard Armitage onstage. And I was NOT disappointed in that!!