AMADEUS is not the easiest of plays for the audience, let alone the actors.
It has a reputation for being a long, rambling and repetitive evening watching that, for the greater part, is essentially a monologue.
All credit to the Norbury for rising to many of the challenges the piece presents – starting with the unsung hero of this particular production, the musical arrangement and sound design by Ben Thompson.
It was faultless, dramatic and actually cinematic as it seamlessly linked and underscored the story. The lighting too was also well-plotted.
The idea of projection as backdrops was a good one but the execution was marred by stage light overspill.
The stage management was slick, efficient and well-choreographed. All of that technical planning was brought together under the competent directing of Andy Brown.
Martin Bourne – as it says in the programme notes – has not trod the boards for some time. What a baptism of fire it must be to come back and play Antonio Salieri, one of the most challenging roles in theatre; ageing up and down, talking directly to the audience, to God and to the cast – sometimes all in the same sentence. Mr Bourne has a chocolate rich voice which fitted Salieri perfectly – though he has more to give by way of bringing out the devil within – too much Mr Nice Guy – too little Prince Machiavelli.
There were some impressive scenes, particularly the ones between Salieri and Mozart (Mathew Jeffrey). It is believed Mozart suffered from autism and certainly Mr Jeffrey’s portrayal showed quite a range of the autistic spectrum including buffoonery, arrogance and toilet tourettes. Constanze (Kirsty Bull) was capable and cuddly but needed to be more the common girl who Mozart’s father found to be an unacceptable daughter-in-law.
What excelled was the clarity of diction from everyone and particularly the Venticellos (Ian Thompson and Steve Carley) who had near perfect pace and drive. What didn’t work sadly was the lack of any physical theatre – the scant chances for real action were not taken up and the straight line direction with rows of people marching on, spouting forth, then marching off again more like a well-drilled regiment than a troupe of actors.
Mozart’s death was, however a joyous piece of theatre, the cloaked figures, the swelling music, the dramatic lighting was so thoughtfully crafted and executed that it became a mini-drama in its own right.