"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Theatre at the Olivier 05.11.2016
in the Olivier to see the eagerly awaited revival of Peter Shaffer's
a couple of rows from the front of the circle, where I still remember
sitting entranced in 1979
as I watched Schofield create the role of Salieri, ironically
bringing notoriety to a composer who feared, rightly, that his memory
would be eclipsed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Longhurst's production is very different, of course. One of its great
strengths is the 20-strong South Bank Sinfonia, embedded in the
set up at the beginning, and at the end, coats on, instruments in
cases, they take a call with the actors. The venticelli
are literally winds, carrying their instruments as they bring gossip
and comment on the action.
modern dress is not the only anachronism – Salieri's sweetmeats
look like donuts, and Mozart sports stylish DMs.
played by Adam Gillen as a strident, charmless child, accentuating
the gulf his rival sees between the sublime and the disgusting
The “dreadful girl”, his Constanze, is
given the full TOWIE treatment by Karia Crome.
caricatured shoutiness is occasionally contagious, with screeching
and yelling where cold crispness might be more effective.
Salieri, seeking advancement and fame, bargaining with his God,
scheming to thwart the upstart Mozart, is
powerfully played by Lucian Msamati. He has a strong rapport with the
audience, his ghosts of the future.
Olivier stage, bustling with life at the court, on the streets, in
library and salon, is excellently used, with hangings, two levels, a
cloth for the Prater and a pit for the players, who are imaginatively
used – a walking glockenspiel especially effective. The music is
often played straight, but there are twists, too: hooked-on
bass-heavy serenade for the party, smooth jazz for a seduction.
the many impressive moments, amusing stagings of Seraglio and
Zauberflote, and a stunning climax in which Salieri is crushed by the
force of the Kyrie, and he clutches vainly at the Mozart manuscripts
on the floor around him.