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BWW Review: AMADEUS, Olivier Theatre

BWW Review: AMADEUS, Olivier Theatre

BWW Review: AMADEUS, Olivier TheatreGreeted by rapturous reviews in 2016, Peter Shaffer's acclaimed production of Amadeus makes a triumphant return to the National Theatre this week. The enthralling story of a fictional confessional from an Italian musician called Antonio Salieri, as he recalls his obsessional jealousy and subsequent efforts to destroy Amadeus Mozart told through extended flashbacks, has been a success since its debut in 1979. Under Michael Longhurst's careful direction, this version is an extraordinary piece of theatre.

British-Tanzanian actor Lucian Msamati makes a welcome return in his role as anti-hero Salieri. His portrayal of a man torn apart by jealousy and bitterness, when faced with the reality of his own mediocrity is visceral and heartbreaking. He has a wonderfully sardonic air and a rapport with the audience that is mesmerising, as he tortures himself as to how God could have put such genius into the body of a man so undeserving of his own talent. He is, quite simply, magnetic.

Adam Gillen also returns to his role of Mozart; flamboyant, infantile and foul-mouthed. He eclipses the talented and measured Salileri instantly and the audience is left not knowing to despise him or just be in awe of his talents. It is a very clever portrayal, as acting the role of such an extreme character could easily tip into farce or ridiculous extremes. Gillen manages to avoid this completely; prancing around the stage in mustard silk knickerbockers and baby pink Doc Martin boots as he radiates over-confidence at the start and then muted and mumbling as he is degraded and tortured by the end.

There are no weak links in an extremely talented supporting cast. Mozart's fiancée and then wife Constanze is played by a self-assured and witty Adelle Leonce and Sarah Amankhah and Ekow Quartey are also excellent as Salieri's wonderfully gossipy Venticelli spies.

The play was always as much about the music as Mozart himself. The most striking thing about Longhurst's production is the unique use of the Southbank Sinfonia as integral to the story. They remain on stage throughout as an essential part of the action; bowing their heads in prayer with Salieri and licking their fingers as he talks of sweetmeats. They weave in and around the action, providing an essential part of the production, as they act and react to the story.

Imogen Knight's choreography is careful and considered. As Salieri confronts his last night on earth, the musicians mingle and weave behind him like a foreboding black mist. As he recalls his first meeting with Mozart, they writhe and bend as though reacting to his pain.

The music is sublime and the highly accomplished playing is enhanced through the clever use of snippets of some of Mozart's masterpieces such as The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni. The melodies captivate and enthral.

Chloe Lamford's design pops with colour and merges clever modern, punky touches with the classical costumes of the court of Vienna. A modern rehearsal room sinks into the floor to become a period orchestra pit, as the cast perform around the edge is simple, but incredibly effective.

This is a sublime return of a sparkling production that doesn't miss a note. Don't miss it.

Amadeus is at the Olivier Theatre until 24 April

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

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From This Author Aliya Al-Hassan