As I mentioned yesterday, I went to see Amadeus at the National Theatre in London this week. I didn’t know much about the play beforehand, or what to expect – I’ve still not even seen the film – but I really enjoyed the play.
What’s really interesting in this production is the way that the musicians from Southbank Sinfonia appear on stage alongside the cast, becoming key parts of the entire thing.
It didn’t (in my opinion) start well, with the first scene being quite confusing, and – as it turned out – pretty irrelevant to the rest of the play. But once we’d got past that small hurdle, the rest of it was excellent. A fascinating story of a man (Salieri) who believes he’s done a deal with God to become a musical genius, then is faced with a true child prodigy (Mozart) with a foul mouth and worse attitude, whose works are infinitely better than Salieri’s pedestrian efforts. Exacerbated by Mozart’s middle name being Amadeus (‘loved by God’) and seeing how Mozart’s ‘first draft’ writing of scores is immediately perfect (because he’s composed it all in his head and knows how it’ll look) he decides to resign his deal, and instead to wreck God’s plans by becoming Mozart’s enemy, knocking him down at every turn.
In many ways, it’s a very dark play, focusing on obsessions, revenge, jealousy and the like. It’s also very powerful, and covers a huge scope on the stage – sometimes it’s hard to watch both Salieri talking at the front of the stage, and see what’s happening at the back with the musicians and other cast members. While your attention’s on Salieri, you suddenly realise that all the musicians have moved – and sometimes appeared – without you really noticing, and for the sheer number of people that involves, it’s pretty note-worthy. (In that way it reminded me very strongly of Ariel in the RSC production of the Tempest that I saw before Christmas)
All told, I was really impressed with the entire production (excepting that first scene) and found it a fascinating experience. Definitely one I’d go and see again, if the opportunity arose.