Sometimes you meet people for a fleeting moment, and yet they touch you in ways that leave you changed and thankful for that single encounter. Such was the case when I met Richard Armitage last night. However, I am getting ahead of myself…
Confession: I am not the biggest Armitage fan on the planet. I respect the man but I am not a keen collector of his work. I found out about RA through my sister whose fine taste in men should have raised alarm bells. I have since regretted her repeated pleas to watch North & South and slowly but surely, I have started devouring every piece of work that he did to atone for my sins. Better late than never, huh?
Now, enough of my questionable Armitage geekdom… It is already 6 am here in London and I am wide awake and my brain is loaded with wonderful memories of Richard Armitage. I am buzzing… I am grinning… I am tingling… And every now and then, I collapse into helpless giggles. I am now a hard-core convert…
I saw him perform as part of the ensemble cast that made up the just concluded “The 24 Hour Plays” held at the Old Vic on November 21. In brief, “The 24 Hour Plays” is the ultimate theatrical challenge where a host of well-known actors, directors and writers join forces to write, rehearse and perform six short plays in just 24 hours, culminating in a unique performance. As this blog post is dedicated to Richard Armitage, and thoughtfully written for the hordes of RA fans out there, I will just give my review of “The Third Wish”.
The Third Wish
Playwright: Stephen Beresford
Director: Charlie Westenra
Asst. Director: Natasha Nixon
Dennis: Richard Armitage
Debbie: Debbie Chazen
Niamh: Niamh Cusack
Miranda: Miranda Raison
The play opens with three women on stage. The setting was a fabulous looking flat in the city and right in the middle of the room was a tree. Debbie, an energetic middle-aged woman, and a bit on the chubby side was regaling her two friends with stories of the tree. Apparently, said tree has special powers. It grants wishes. She goes on to reveal that she made a wish for a bigger flat and that her wish was granted. Her friends were all gobsmacked at her changed fortunes until Debbie tells them to “wait until you see Dennis”, her husband, because he too made a wish.
Cue Dennis’ entrance to the stage. Who else would embody a man’s wish to become the perfect man? Dennis has transformed from a chubby middle-aged man into, you guessed it, The Richard Armitage! The girls asked Dennis what he wished for and he said “I made a wish to be Richard Armitage” and Voila! The audience gave rapturous applause and so they should as we see Dennis, ehr, Richard Armitage, own the stage with his panther-like moves. He was dressed conspicuously and rather appropriately like Spooks’ Lucas North. Topical, diabolical, dangerous. Hot! One can tell that Armitage is enjoying his return to the stage as he parodied his sex god status by prancing on stage, lifting his long lithe legs effortlessly, swirling his lustrous thick jet black hair as if he was the star of a new Pantene male advert! Didn’t know RA can do comedy! He was hilarious! He then goes to Debbie and they start a dance routine that left the audience practically in stitches. I remember reading that he studied dance in LAMDA so this must be all second nature to him.
When the girls asked Debbie why they chose Armitage, Debbie remarked that Armitage is beautiful but down to earth in real life. Ah, it is art imitating life in all its grandiose splendor, I love it! On the other side of the stage however, we see Armitage, ehr Dennis, looking straight at the audience, showing off his physique and probably still not used to his new demigod apperance. He then gives his wife Debbie a lingering kiss and then we see Miranda getting hold of the tree and she too makes her third wish. It was a delight to see Miranda Raison (she played Jo Portman in Spooks), same with Niamh Cusack but most of all to see Richard Armitage grace the Old Vic stage albeit a brief 20 minutes.
But you said you met Richard Armitage, Simone! Yes I did, just gimme a mo to breathe…
After the six plays have been performed, we were instructed to convene outside the Old Vic, next to Stage Door as there is a bus waiting for the actors and members of the audience to take them to the post show party in Asia de Cuba. Somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good. My friend and I got on the bus, totally unprepared for life’s sweetest surprise. Richard Armitage was also on the same bus! How adorable is this man, one of the biggest stars on tv, and there he was riding with the lowly masses, sitting next to an absolute pleb (me!) and our thighs rubbing, not that I took any notice. I did not even enjoy a minute of it! I am a big fat liar!
I was surprised to see him there and I had to compose myself, so I will not come off as a blabbering idiot. Congratulations were in order so I offered him my professional and unbiased critique of the show and he seemed genuinely pleased. It was so lovely of him to ask me how I was. I think I responded with something somewhat articulate. We then shook hands and he had a nice strong grip. Let me tell you right now, that yes, this man is possibly the most strikingly gorgeous man I have ever had the pleasure to meet! He was warm and attentive. Please feel free to insert any wonderful adjective to describe him and it will most likely apply. I guarantee it.
The bus ride took all of 15 minutes but there is no shortage of Armitage charm for the rest of the night. After our brief chat, I kept to myself and left him in peace. I mean, restraining orders are real and all and I have resolved to maintain my dignity. My friend was under no such constraints! She was smarting from the fact that I have not had my picture taken with Richard. Thank heavens for the collusive nature of friendship! She very impressively arranged a photo op with the man himself:
He was so gracious the whole night and up till now, in the glaring light of day, I still marvel at how beautiful he is as an actor and as a human being. Mr. Richard Armitage, you have made me utterly happy with your generosity and kindness and hope you find success and joy in all your endeavors. Bow.