Amadeus - Review

Since the success of his play, La Gloria, which was about Vivaldi, it is not surprising that Mark Wilson decided to direct Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, which is about Mozart. He went for a promenade production in the round. This released the play from the confines of a stage and the audience was encouraged to mingle with the cast in the studio. It was like eavesdropping on an important and exciting secret. Since there is a great deal of secrecy going on, this suited Shaffer's play very well.

When Paul Scofield played the first Salieri at the National Theatre in 1979, he said it was the hardest modern part he's ever had to grasp – "It's like Lear". Bill Arundel made his villainy unexpectedly reasonable. He destroyed Mozart, not simply through jealousy but because of being angry with God for bestowing on Mozart the power of creating glorious music. He thought Mozart unworthy to receive it. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Amadeus: Beloved of God) was a scatological nuisance. It was okay to wipe him out.

Surrounded by the dark intrigue of the Establishment figures who circled the Empress (Ray Farr) like malevolent black beetles, Bill Arundel stood head and shoulders above them. An imposing figure with his shock of blond hair and long black coat, he produced some moments of awful nobility in the name of evil – which made his villainy the more despicable. If the Devil has the best tunes, Salieri has the best lines and when Bill Arundel spoke them, you realised how good they are.

We had to wait 20 minutes for Mozart to make his first appearance. When George Williams arrived, he was a giggling child on his hands and knees, breaking wind and playing dirty games with Constanze (Katie Scarfe). Salieri's view of his rival was reasonable, then?

But as intrigue deepened and the gossiping trouble-makers moved in for the kill, George Williams turned Mozart into a man who deserved our sympathy. His final moments, with the Requiem completed, were heartbreaking. We all felt enormous pity. I don't cry at the theatre, but...

His tormenters were Pat Boxall, Cheryl Brown, Carl Boardman, Andy Thomas and John Adam. The production gave an opportunity to hear some great music, of course, and we weren't disappointed.

Because of being semi-derelict, I don't do promenade any more but from where I was sitting, it looked good, a production NVT can be pleased with. It had to be Salieri's and Mozart's evening but they had great support.


Barry Hewlett-Davies
16 July 2005