Part 2 of Judit’s ‘Crucible’ Oddysey: Prepping, Pressies and a Study in Contrast

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The eagerly awaited second part of Hungarian RA fan Judit’s “Crucible” experience is here! Not only did Judit get to see RA perform in the role of John Proctor three times at the Old Vic, she also had the opportunity to see the play staged this spring in her native Hungary, providing us with a study in contrasts between the two productions.  We also get to vicariously enjoy the fun of picking out presents for our favorite fella, who spent considerable time in Judit’s “stomping grounds” of Budapest! Read on, enjoy and comment. And thanks once again, Judit.

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Theatre tickets, flights and accommodation booked – yet I was still a bit like Geraldine in VOD when Harry asks her to dinner. “OMG, only FIVE hours to get ready” (only in my case, it was “OMG. only two-and-a-half months to get ready!”).

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PREPARATION!

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First things first. I had to get my hands on the original English version of the play. I do have the Hungarian translation, but I wanted to read it as it was written. So I ordered an inexpensive used copy from Amazon. And it turned out to be the same edition as the one Richard was working from during rehearsal! How I squeed when I saw “my” book in those huge hands!

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RA script

A coincidence, which turned out to be part of my “preparation process,” was the chance to see a guest performance of “The Crucible” at the National Theatre in Budapest on 30th April. Having never been to our National Theatre (it’s a relatively new building), I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I thought it would be interesting to see another staging and have something to which I could compare the Old Vic’s version ( I had not yet read the play when I saw the version at the National Theatre).

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From the Hungarian National Theatre production of The Crucible, courtesy of Judit.

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A huge difference straight away was the traditional staging of the Hungarian version.  As it turned out, the script was also  cut compared to the Old Vic’s. production–the performance in Hungary was 40 minutes shorter.  The costumes were a mixture of different eras–perhaps to emphasize the story’s timelessness? I am not sure. They also “sexed up” the play a bit in some of the scenes with John and Abigail, and John and Elizabeth. There was one particularly gruesome torture scene involving Tituba. Elizabeth Proctor recited the Lord’s Prayer at the end of the play–which certainly was not in the original script, nor did I quite see the point of it.

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In terms of performances, I thought the Hungarian cast was really strong all around–except for the actor who played John Proctor. He just didn’t have the stage presence or the charisma to make me take him or his plight seriously.I am afraid the Hungarian version of Proctor had all the charisma of a wet sock, and was definitely the weakest link in that cast. In fact, I thought that the real protagonists of the play were the Reverend Hale and Elizabeth, not Proctor! It was hard for me to figure out what made Richard want to play that character . . .

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 Anyway, my favourite performance of the evening came from the actor (who incidentally, looks like he could be William Gaunt’s long-lost twin brother) playing Giles Corey. I think Giles is one of the most relatable characters and he brings much-needed comic relief to the proceedings.

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PRESSIES!

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I’d decided very early on that I was going to bring RA some presents – something to remind him of Hungary, since he’d spent almost two years here shooting the three series of Robin Hood.

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I figured that since most people in the queue at the stage door are there to get something FROM him (i.e. autographs, photos, etc.) he might appreciate it if someone wanted to GIVE him something for a change.

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Since Hungary is a bit of a wine country (not as renowned as say, France, but we do have some 22 wine regions in our tiny little country) and RA is a wine connoisseur, a bottle of wine was an obvious choice.

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http://www.decanter.com/dwwa/dwwa-coverage/584305/dwwa-2013-international-trophies-red-bordeaux-varietal-over-15

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I decided to go with a wine that was lesser known, but at the same time, internationally recognized. I ended up with a 2011 Cuvée.

Chocolates were another obvious choice. I wanted to get him something that you can’t really get outside of Hungary.

So, I ended up with this:

chocolates for RA

It’s a marzipan praliné with alcoholic cherry filling– very. very nice, indeed! I particularly liked the box because it features an image of our most beautiful bridge, the Chain Bridge (Lánchíd), which was designed by an English architect, Adam Clark, in the mid-19th century.

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I had to test it, of course, because I didn’t want to give our man something that was less than top quality!

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What else could I add to my RA gift list?

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My young sister-in-RA, Brigitta and her family make their own EXQUISITE strawberry jam every year from fresh Hungarian strawberries.

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This year they were kind enough to make a batch for me. The idea came to me that I should bring Richard a jar of it. Brigitta was very sad that she couldn’t come to the UK and see the play with me, so I thought this way she could be part of the experience.

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Of course, I wanted to put a nice label on the jar. However, I’m the world’s least creative person and have never designed anything in my life before.

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Luckily I found a website (www.jamlabelizer.com) that allows you to design your own personalized jam label and so I ended up with this:

sir guy jame

 I really do wish I could have come up with something a LOT wittier and funnier, but I was pushing the boundaries of my creativity as it was.

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Since I wanted a label with some kind of reference to the time RA spent in Hungary, Sir Guy seemed the perfect choice!

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(Brigitta insisted that I put my name on the label, even though I had nothing to do with the preparation of the jam itself. She said she would refuse to give me permission to even give the jar to Richard unless my name was on the label. What could I do but give in?)

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I also wanted to write him a letter.  I started writing it in my head from the day we booked the tickets,  actually. But none of those thoughts ever saw the light of day in the end. That’s probably the only regret I have about the whole experience: I wish I’d have been brave enough to write that letter–or at the very least, a card!

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So, here they are, jam and bottle of wine –safely delivered to London on the 26th June!!!

wine and jam

Coming up: Part 3 Viewing The Crucible (Three Times!) and The Stage Door Experience with RA! Stay tuned . . .

23 responses »

  1. Those look like very thoughtful and tasty treats. They look beautiful, I am sure Mr. A appreciated the thought that went into them.

    • From what I heard he’s been quite spoiled with tasty chocolate and other yummy treats coming from all over the world!!! 😀 He sure deserves them all! And he needs the chocs to keep up the energy level!! 😉

  2. Ah, great, the story continues! Great prep, Judit. You are very committed, reading the play and watching it, too, in another version… And such nice pressies. I always think you can’t fail with some edible goodies. I can’t wait to hear how the passing over of presents went 😉

    • It was a very lucky coincidence that I caught that performance. It was a one-off guest performance in Budapest by the Győr (big town in North-West Hungary) National Theatre. In Hungary most theatres are repertory theatres and work with resident companies. There’s a National Theatre company in every major city. As for the pressies I’m a little bit embarrassed by the jam label- maybe I could have asked around in Armitageworld and someone a lot more creative than me could have come up with a much wittier name for that jam! LOL But I sure hope he likes it- it really is super yummy.

      • I’m genuinely surprised and humbled anybody would want to read my ramblings, I really honestly didn’t think you guys would be interested in any of these details… (as I told you in my email, Angie…). But thank you all the same, I feel honoured. I truly appreciate your kindness.

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