Amadeus

Theatre, Drama National Theatre , South Bank Monday January 22 2018 - Saturday February 17 2018
Recommended
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(9user reviews)
22 Love It
Save it
 (© Marc Brenner)
1/5
© Marc Brenner

Lucian Msamati (Antonio Salieri)

 (© Marc Brenner)
2/5
© Marc Brenner

Adam Gillen (Mozart)

 (© Marc Brenner)
3/5
© Marc Brenner

Adam Gillen (Mozart)

 (© Marc Brenner)
4/5
© Marc Brenner

Karla Crome (Constanze Mozart), Adam Gillen (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

 (© Marc Brenner)
5/5
© Marc Brenner

Sarah Amankwah (Venticelli), Lucian Msamati (Antonio Salieri), Hammed Animashaun (Venticelli)

Rock me, Amadeus! Lucian Msamati stars in an overwhelming production of Peter Shaffer's great play

'Amadeus' will screen in cinemas nationwide from Feb 2

The audacious decision to have an actual full-on orchestra – the Southbank Sinfonia – wandering the stage playing Mozart’s greatest hits doesn’t overpower the human drama in Michael Longhurst’s stupendous revival of the late Peter Shaffer’s ‘Amadeus’. 

Brilliant National Theatre regular Lucian Msamati vaults into the big league with his performance as Antonio Salieri, director of opera to the imperial court in Vienna, imagined by Shaffer as the architect of the downfall of the vastly more talented Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

Disregarding the fourth wall, Salieri tells us about his career, a success story tainted only by the fact that he is acutely aware of his own mediocrity, and acutely aware of young Mozart’s genius. Strangely, nobody else seems to have noticed this and – furious at God for the absurd state of affairs – Salieri proceeds to brutally sabotage Mozart’s life and career.

The genius of Msamati’s performance is its restraint: he never goes full Bond villain, but sets about his business with brisk awkwardness, speaking in the stiff tones of a minor West African bureaucrat. As he pulls down Mozart’s prospects, he does so without cackling malice but with the trudge of a jobsworth civil servant turning down a benefits claim. And yet operatic levels of emotion bubble away under it – he is anguished at his own limitations, and feels a sort of agonised joy at Mozart’s music. Msamati makes it not so much about the banality of evil as the tragedy of banality – Salieri is sent half mad by the knowledge there are greater things than him out there.

By contrast, Adam Gillen’s white-hot Mozart is almost too much at first, seemingly channelling Richie from ‘Bottom’ as he farts and froths and shrieks across the stage. But his lack of restraint makes sense next to Msamati’s extreme restraint: Mozart is something otherworldly, a raving, unstable fragment of God; Salieri can only look on in baffled, angry awe.

There is much else that is great here, from Imogen Knight’s nifty choreography to the amusingly anachronistic flourishes of Chloe Lamford’s design (Mozart wears DMs, Salieri scoffs Dunkin Donuts) to a nicely laconic turn from Karla Crome as Mozart’s wife Constanze.

Shaffer, who died this year, was an advocate of ‘total theatre’, a mix of acting, mime, music and more – basically chucking everything but the kitchen sink at a play to create an epic, overwhelming, symphonic effect. But even the playwight didn’t conceive of a full live orchestra getting in on the action, singing, playing, even taking on a few minor acting roles. I guess that makes this total total theatre, and it is wonderful.

By: Andrzej Lukowski

Posted:

Venue name: National Theatre
Contact:
Address: South Bank
London
SE1 9PX
Opening hours: 9.30am-11pm Mon-Sat (12noon-6pm Sun when there is a performance in the building)
Transport: Tube: Waterloo
Price: £15-£65
Event website: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/amadeus
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|9
2 people listening
Ben
1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

A true spectacle, the kind of production only the National would put on.  I'd agree with the reviewer below that the 2nd half dragged a little - a good 15-20 minutes could be cut - but in general it's a thoroughly entertaining show.  Adam Gillen seems to be channelling Ric Mayall in his Lucian Msamati is excellent in the lead role as Salieri.   The music is obviously astounding too, made all the better with the on-stage Southbank Sinfonia being very much part of the production.  

Daniel L
Tastemaker

This is one of the best pieces of musical theatre that I have seen in awhile. It is so refreshing to have the musicians part of the performance and moving along with the change of set. I really love the actor who played Mozart as it was such a demanding role but he played it brilliantly. Lucian Msamati was also outstanding in the show. I highly recommend catching this again as it is extending its run for the third time! You will probably see me in the third run as well because I am definitely keen on catching this production once more.

AJCroasdale
tastemaker

Amadeus is a must for anyone with a love of music, and of the sheer spectacle of big-budget theatre.

Lucian Msamati's highly controlled Salieri is cast against Adam Gillen’s pyrotechnic Mozart, and the tension that arises between them is perfectly balanced. Gillen's hyperactive rendering of Mozart actually manages to create sympathy, rather than him being annoying, and the central roles are supported by strong performances by the whole cast.


Overall, the whole production of Amadeus is enjoyable: there are moments of such beauty that the hairs on the backs of my arms literally stood up, but I also felt that the second half dragged a bit. Three hours is a long time to focus, and I couldn't help but feel that if the show were shorter it would have maintained its impact better.

However, Amadeus is well worth your time. The quality of the acting, the design work, the choreography, the fact that the Southbank Sinfonia are integrated into the show at all times, makes for an incredible show.


Recommended.


Marco D
tastemaker

A beautiful, intoxicating and charming theatrical show. This is an unforgettable, unmissable production of a cast that transmit power and bring strong emotions to this energetic stage.

Amadeus got me transfixed into this obsessive story based in Vienna.

It almost makes you feel emotionally drained from beginning to end. Seeing these actors perform in such a beautiful, but vulgar way is incredible. The facial expressions to the movement of the actors is hilarious, but worrying.

The passion they put into these theatrical characters is memorable.

I felt what they were feeling. I felt their pain and their suffering which is quite weird, but true.

I truly haven't seen so much emotion, so much expressive body language, so much anger, and jealousy in one room.

The cast created a tense, captivating three hour long, emblematic show.

Prepare yourselves, it can be an intense production for some. Definitely not long for me.

The costumes are divine and an inspirational asset to me. The costumes have a modern twist as they bring recognisable accessories to the stage which adds a feeling of it being the present day and very modern.

Lucian Msamati as 'Antonio Salieri' is a glorious, majestic, empowering man that tells us the story how it exactly is.

Adam Gillen as 'Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart' is just phenomenal, breathtaking, captivating, magnificent, extraordinary.

The list goes on and on. He creates and showcases a strong, emotional Mozart full of anger. I see him as a deluded character, but with exceptional talents that the world adore for multiple reasons.

I most especially loved his costumes, I remember saying that I would adore to wear his clothes without any preconceptions while watching the performance.

The Doc Marten boots add an exquisite feel to the character. His first pair were these pail pink coloured boots which looked adorable and his second pair were these intricately detailed paintings by an Italian artist if I'm not mistaken. They added the right style to the whole aesthetic of the story to the infamous Mozart.

There wasn't anyone I thought that didn't do a brilliant job on stage. I was sitting at the front row of the theatre. The view was brilliant, but I wouldn't recommend it.

You'll probably moan about your back and your neck.

The ticket prices were great.

Exceptionally low priced, especially for front row seats. Definitely worth having a look.

I felt like I left the National Theatre having learned multiple languages and that's what makes Amadeus a spectacular performance.

Simply beautiful!!!

One tiny detail I should mention. On either side of the auditorium, the whole production is captioned. There is no excuses for anyone to miss Amadeus. Give it a go and experience it for yourself.

#TOTastemaker

Love MD.

Kat
tastemaker

Amadeus at the National theatre was a true cultural experience.

I went to see this play not knowing or expecting anything, I purposely didn't read the synopsis and I didn't even pick up a leaflet. All I knew was that it was about Mozart.

I don't want to give too much away with my review but it tells the story of Antonio Salieri a talented composer of whom works with the Vienna monarch to advise musical talents. Salieri meets Mozart played by Adam Gilles who portrays the childish character of Mozart outstandingly.

Salieri grows extremely jealous of Mozart and comes up with a plan to take him down and remove his talents, a battle he takes on and believes he is also taking on God. The story is set in the 1700s but the actors all use today's language and help the audience understand a story and recreate it based on how today's society would read into this.

I cannot praise the acting of

Lucian Msamati anymore, easily the most complex amount of lines to learn and no faults what so ever.

The performance is a truly unique one with the orchestra been a big part of the play you really need to see it to understand what I mean. I left leaving the play desperate to read more on Mozart and to see if how his character was portrayed was true to what we know. An outstanding performance by everyone in a play that I really wasn't sure in what to expect. Grab a ticket while you can, you will find parts funny but you will also engage in the story so much.

Bonnie W
Tastemaker

Amadeus is told through the viewpoint of Viennese court composer Saliery who is tortured by the frivolous, vulgar and unfathomably talented Mozart. The staging is very interesting, incorporating the orchestra into the events on stage and using a relatively modest set in comparison to the gorgeous, opulent and somewhat gaudy costumes used in the first act. Although the story takes place in the 18th century, there were some quirky modern additions to the costumes including baby pink Doc Martins and minnie mouse ears - somehow they worked really well. There is beautiful opera signing throughout the show and all of the actors give stunning performances. The play starts out frivolous and fun, celebrating Mozart's youth and success but the second act is so heavy and dark, you can almost feel Mozart’s despair and pain. The play sticks mainly to the storyline of the 1984 film, which won a staggering 8 Oscars. At 3 hours running time, the National Theatre has pulled off an impressive feat with Amadeus.

GeorgeX
Tastemaker

While the first part was superb, the second half was lengthy, slow pacing, with no beat. Especially the monologue of Salieri towards the end was quite tiring. Direction and actors' movement on the stage from Michael Longhurst was really good. Adam Gillen as Mozart was just outstanding; so funny, so easily changing emotions - absolutely served the role. Bonus: Southbank Sinfonia playing through the whole play.