Pea, Avocado and Chartreuse…Richard Armitage and The Crucible

I was doing really well coming to terms with the fact that I would not be seeing Richard Armitage perform as John Proctor at the Old Vic this summer.  I was only a sort of pale pea green with envy.  Until two days ago, and then this happened:

Awww, c'mon!  Really?!

Awww, c’mon! Really?! Source

I started running the logistics.  I have a valid passport and an excellent rolling suitcase (interestingly enough, it’s green).  I could probably scrape up the cost of admission, so what’s left?  Oh, that’s right…there’s that little matter of transatlantic airfare and accommodations in a moderately pricey global capital.  My husband just laughed at my increasingly avocado tinged skin.  “What’s the big deal?” he says… “it’s not like The Crucible is hot or something.”  Oh really?  Is that so?

Nope, nothin' hot here...

Nope, nothin’ hot here… Source

I’ve always been kind of amused by the contemporary notion that sex was completely taboo in the 17th – 19th centuries…that sexual expression is a product of the modern world.  Yeah, not really.  Puritan society was having plenty of sex, it was just legally confined to the context of marriage.  The fact that Puritan law made adultery a capital offense is certainly suggestive that adultery existed.  Adultery has always existed, and so have sanctions against it.  One of the things I find most interesting about studying the activities of the human animal is no matter what the time period or the culture, the harder authority tries to crack down on something, the more enticing it becomes to humans.

There has been a lot of discussion about The Crucible being parallel to the “witch hunt” socio-political context of the McCarthy hearings, and that is certainly interesting, but I’m also very intrigued by the sexual politics of the play.  Arthur Miller adjusted the age of the Abigail Williams character to allow for an adulterous affair between her and John Proctor, an affair that fuels much of the conflict.   His guilt over the affair and her desire to continue it, to the point of implicating his wife as a witch to get her out of the way, creates an enormous sexual tension that runs behind the “witch” trials in the play.  I doubt I’m the first person to note Miller’s allusion to the renewed sexual repression of the 1950’s America after a period of loosening social and sexual mores in the interwar period (1920’s-30’s).  If the images from rehearsal are anything to go by, this production promises to deliver the goods on a variety of levels.

but I'm not bitter...

but I’m not bitter…much.

In all seriousness…to all who are going to see the play, have a fabulous time!  (and for the love of all that’s holy, throw me some crumbs and let me know the details when you regain the power of speech!!)

40 comments on “Pea, Avocado and Chartreuse…Richard Armitage and The Crucible

  1. Servetus says:

    re Puritans and sex, one word: bundling. That society had the highest rate of premarital pregnancy of any European settlement in North America.

    • obscura says:

      Yeah…”legally” and “actually” are two very different things. I believe there are still fellatio laws in several US states, but I doubt it slows anybody down!

    • obscura says:

      and for the record, the first search I did when I was thinking about this was “bastardy rates Puritan Massachussets” – indicative barometer of activity bastardy rates!

      • Servetus says:

        It wasn’t that odd, if you think about it terms of agrarian fertility in England and the rules about clandestine marriage before the Reformation. You weren’t officially required to take a formal vow in a church until the later Reformation, and it’s really the mid-seventeenth century before that rule starts to get enforced more universally. The vow is only necessary if you want your children to be legitimate, i.e., if you want your children to be able to inherit. So there was certainly plenty of “experimentation” going on with marriage following when it became “necessary.”

        • obscura says:

          Yeah, this kind of information is not very surprising and is part of the reason I always scratch my head when people continue to suppose that premarital children are uniquely modern phenomenon and a product of the breakdown of traditional mores…um, not really.

          I’m just keepin’ up with the early modern Jones…my oldest was a guest at my wedding 😉

          • Servetus says:

            Absolutely. Also, the average sixteenth-century marriage in western Europe lasted 12-13 years. Even though divorce was nigh impossible in Catholic areas and still very difficult / hugely frowned upon in Protestant ones. Which is why I find the gnashing of teeth about the divorce rate these days so unbelievably annoying, along with the anxiety about blended families.

          • obscura says:

            I never realized how “weird” my family in this context…I think I told you that I was dying laughing hearing my daughter tell her friend, whose parents have never married, “My dad has a sister from another mister but not a brother from another mother,” to which I answered…”he does” (My husband’s parents were never married either…he was unaware of this nugget until he we were getting married when he was 29!)

  2. Heather says:

    This may sound a little strange…but of all the fan encounters with our man Richard, I have not heard tell of how he smells…I’m dying to know that….I don’t know why, but I am. So….if any of you lucky committed ladies have the ultimate good fortune to see the play…let me know!

    • Servetus says:

      Nat had something about that on her blog — people have smelled him. Hang on.

      • Heather says:

        Thank you, Servetus! However, I am trapped in the circular hell of trying to log on to that site for that link…I don’t know my password so it’s asks for my email to send me a link to re-set my password…so I click on the link which then tells me it doesn’t recognize my email (even though it just emailed me the link) so around and around I go….with no luck of course. Please, please…what does he smell like?!

        • obscura says:

          I believe the consensus from people I’ve seen mention it is “clean”

          PS…I don’t think it’s weird at all, scent is a really evocative thing.

          • Heather says:

            Clean is good. Some people you are attracted to by smell (or lack of discernible smell) and some people you are repelled by smell. I think he probably smells very nice indeed.

        • Servetus says:

          huh, that site shouldn’t ask you for an email or a password. She said he smelled really great. It was a sort of ongoing joke on that blog that Nat really wanted to know how he smells. But I’ve read a more detailed description somewhere, it was either from the last round of Hobbit appearances or the 92Y event, someone saying he smelled fresh and a bit soapy.

          • Heather says:

            Good to know. He probably does smell fresh and soapy since he must work out a lot and his day seems quite physical. Thanks Servetus.

          • FYI It asked me for my email and password and then said it was waiting for a moderator. Then I tried as a guest and got an error.

          • Servetus says:

            I dunno, it still works for me — the homepage of the blog is — you might try going there and searching for “smells”, which was how I found it.

  3. guylty says:

    Looks like that “infamous” Scene 2 is back in the play, so there may be a bit of “sex” yet… If I live to tell the tale, I’ll pass it on 😀
    Otherwise: Want a poster? I could get you one – in lieu of the experience itself…

  4. fedoralady says:

    He smells clean and soapy and he’s hot like a furnace—I believe that’s what the ladies have said. *guh* Even as hot and miserable as it is right now here in Lower Alabama, I wouldn’t mind being near that heat source. Bundling popped into my mind, too, Servetus. 😉 Sex has already been around, even if people sorta kinda didn’t want to admit it. Oooh, to seem him performing on stage . . . maybe, just maybe, another year.

  5. Heather says:

    hot like a furnance…that’s funny. He definitely generates a lot of heat.

  6. katie70 says:

    Premartial sex has been around since the beginning of time, just before no one wanted to talk about it. MIL still gets her knickers in a twist over the subject. I think it’s why she still don’t like my SIL or me. Oh well.

    • obscura says:

      I think it’s only been relatively recently that people decided it was a “not to be discussed” topic and then invented an accompanying mythology to support that position. World literature us full to the brim with tales of adultery ranging from tragic to farcical…tale as old as time :).

  7. Barsine says:

    Our beloved husbands and their sarcastic puns 😉 But, haven’t they realized that when we are, as the song says “bewitched, bothered and bewildered” after seeing pictures like that they are the ones to collect the “benefits”? 🙂

    I can’t wait to read the chronicles of the lucky few who will see the play.

  8. obscura says:

    My husband does seem to forget that perk from time to time 🙂

    I am very eager to hear all about this production. I’ve read a little about Yael Farber and have been very intrigued by her artistic perspectives.

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