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BWW Review: AMADEUS, National Theatre At Home

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BWW Review: AMADEUS, National Theatre At Home

BWW Review: AMADEUS, National Theatre At HomeIt seems almost a lifetime ago that The National Theatre made the decision to start streaming shows from their archive to shine a light in the darkness of these times. Beginning with One Man, Two Guv'nors, their screening of the peerless production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus marks the last of these shows and ends this wonderful series on a triumphant high.

Set in the richly opulent world of the court of 18th century Vienna, the production explores art, beauty, obsessive jealousy and self-loathing. Antonio Salieri is the established and confident Court Composer, who is usurped when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart bounces into the picture to idly demonstrate his genius. To Salieri, Mozart's presence only serves to remind him of his own mediocrity. We follow Salieri's mental decline as he is privately tormented by this and plots Mozart's downfall to tragic effect.

Musicians are placed at the centre of the action, with the on-stage presence of the magnificent Southbank Sinfonia who not only provide the music, but also blend into the ensemble cast. Visually it is incredibly effective and sounds even better. With luscious snippets of some of Mozart's best-known pieces such as The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro, it is not hard to appreciate how overwhelmed Salieri is when confronted by music of this transcendental calibre.

This production is simply a stunning piece of theatre, emphasised by the richness of the two main roles. Lucian Msamati is hypnotic as Salieri, warring with God as much as Mozart. He brings a brilliant depth to the character, with the outwardly confident and poised court composer, but inwardly torturing himself with Mozart's genius against what he sees as he is own failings. His anguish and internal torment is tangible and heartbreaking.

Adam Gillen has great fun with the potty-mouthed and puerile figure of Mozart, prancing around the stage in pink Doc Martin boots and mustard-coloured knickerbockers. It is easy to see why Salieri rages against God for channeling such sublime talent through this annoyingly infantile man-child. Gillen very much emphasises the hyperactive, comic elements of the character which, occasionally, threaten to become almost cartoonish, but he also shows glimpses of the isolation and frustration of being a veritable genius.

The cast is excellent. Mozart's fiancée and then wife Constanze is played by a self-assured and witty Karla Crome and Tom Edden is a very funny Joseph II, particularly when complaining about the music having too many notes. Sarah Amankwah and Hammed Animashaun are also delicious gossips as Salieri's wonderful Venticelli.

Director Michael Longhurst, along with designer Chloe Lamford and musical director Simon Slater, create a production that weaves the drama and music together into something truly special. The design is colourful and modern, mixing punk with the classical costumes of the court of Vienna.

There is no doubt that watching these productions at home is a compromise of sorts and the thrill of a live production is unmatched. However, it is bittersweet to know this is the last screening from The National Theatre, when they have added such escapism to so many people throughout this time. Amadeus is one of The National Theatre's most immersive and captivating productions; what a way to end the run!

Amadeus is available on The National Theatre YouTube Channel until 23rd July, where there will also be an audio-described version available

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

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From This Author Aliya Al-Hassan