Review: AMADEUS at ASB Waterfront Theatre Auckland

By: May. 04, 2017
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As the curtain rose on the opening scene of Auckland Theatre Company's Amadeus my ageing aesthetic senses were overwhelmed but, like a kid unleashed at a new playground, I moved from sensory overload to great joy as the stunning artistry before me sunk in.

It was simply beautiful.

It takes a lot for Auckland audiences to get on their feet but they certainly did in a well deserved standing ovation.

The creative team have collaborated to craft something that arouses and heightens the senses, honouring the sensuality at the heart of Mozart's music.

Led by director Oliver Driver their talents have been extraordinarily melded.

Musical Director Leon Radojkovic took up Driver's challenge to present Mozart's music as if he'd had access to modern day instruments and what he has come up with is stunning. Having the musicians onstage and immersed within the story added another sensational layer. Their performance alone is worth seeing.

Ella Mizrahi has designed a set that is simplistic yet powerful, enabling the cast to 'live' and excel within Mozart's music; literally. Combined with Jo Kilgour's lighting it is pure joy.

Cynical 'me' stepped in wondering how any actor could be anything but upstaged by such a beautiful piece. How could one dance across a masterpiece?

The performers were the notes in Mozart's handwritten scores emerging from the set, modulating in a harmonious presentation balancing both simplistic and complex layers within a theatre piece voluptuous in its magnificence.

This is the story of the hard working, God-fearing and socially acceptable court composer Antonio Salieri who is trapped within the conviction that he should have been blessed with musical genius. He becomes consumed with jealousy when meeting the potty mouthed naive Mozart who is pure talent. Salieri uses his social standing to destroy Mozart and in turn destroys himself by his own action and obsession.

Michael Hurst appears from the beauty of the set. He's the 'master of the piece' as the self obsessed Salieri tormented by desire for personal fame and fortune, veraciously replicating the implications of the unhealthy side of the Greek definition of self obsessed desire and love; 'philautia'. Salieri's convictions and beliefs are extinguished and exchanged in a bid for what he cannot have; Mozart's talent.

As he expresses, his greatest punishment was to live to witness his own extinction.

Ross McCormack is deliciously superb as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He portrays a Mozart who fails to express himself through the usual conventions. Well known in the dance world, McCormack is mesmerising and thoroughly entertaining in his role.

Often misunderstood with his quirky obsession with scatological humour, random thoughts and naive trust, he presents as someone closer to a fool than a genius. However, McCormack cleverly layers Mozart's deeply emotional and sophisticated talent within his physical movement and phrases.

Katerina Cavalieri (Madison Nonoa), the pupil of Salieri and then Mozart is eerily exhilarating and accolades to whoever made the decision to release her character from silence. Her voice and costume against the cleverly lit and stunning set brings one's senses to a heightened crescendo.

I am a fan of Morgana O'Reily's stage work and she did not disappoint as Mozart's wife Constanze.

Successfully breaking the mould of his fame as "Tim" the All Blacks supporter, Byron McColl (Joseph the Emperor) cashes in on his comedic popularity and showcases his versatility as both player and musician. Clever practitioners Kura Forrester (Sweiten) and Laughton Kora (Rosenberg) skilfully move in and out of languages and roles.

This truly is a must-see show.

The ASB Season of Amadeus at ASB Waterfront Theatre from 2 - 17 May 2017


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