AMADEUS

03 August 2014 Chichester Festival Theatre,


Earlier this year, when I heard that Lara Pulver had been cast as Louise in Gypsy as part of the 2014 season at Chichester Festival Theatre, I knew I had to go. I adored Lara in Robin Hood, Spooks, and of course as the fabulous Irene Adler in BBC’s Sherlock.

Now, as I was booking my ticket(s) for this, I saw that Amadeus was also part of the season. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of classical music, even though it is beautiful - I don’t even know how people remember what each piece is called, it goes in one ear, and out the other with me and my terrible memory! Anyway, I know that my dad is an absolute fanboy for Mozart, so knew that I had to buy tickets, otherwise he’d probably never speak to me again. So, I did, and my dad probably reacted the way I do when I hear news about Sherlock or Doctor Who.

Finally, after months of waiting, the day finally arrived. I was actually quite excited, as even though I don’t know the works of Mozart inside out, I have seen the 1984 film, directed by MiloŇ° Forman, with the screenplay by Peter Shaffer, whose writing was used for this play. I don’t remember it in great depth, but had a pretty good clue of what goes on.

The theatre itself has been recently refurbished, and having never been there before, I don’t know what it was like previously. But, stepping into the Festival Theatre itself, it was lovely. I love stages that encompass the audience around them. I think it seats a few hundred more than the previous theatre I visited, which was the Old Vic, when I saw The Crucible last month. It was good to see the theatre packed out, apart from the odd seat or two further up, considering it had only opened it’s doors I think, three or four days prior to us going?

I know of Rupert Everett, but have only actually watched him in Wild Target, and a couple of other things, so I was interested to see him in theatre, and how he would portray Salieri. I haven’t watched any of Joshua McGuire’s work, but I will definitely check some out now I’ve seen him perform.

I won’t go into details too much about the story, as I assume if you are reading this, you have an idea of what Amadeus is about. Anyway, I thought it was brilliant that Everett barely leaves the stage. Actually, if I remember correctly, the only time he does leave the stage is when it’s the interval. (There may be a part when he gets wheeled off, but I can’t remember if it was just further back on the stage - forgive me and my memory!)

When he switched from the older Salieri, and stands up, throwing what he has wrapped around him, and pulls the wig out of his pocket, placing it on his head, and changing his demeanor immediately to the younger Salieri…I thought it was fantastic. Seeing that instant change in him was great. I loved that when he went to speak in certain parts, somewhat talking to the audience in a roundabout way, the supporting cast would freeze, and Everett would speak, then when he’s finished, the cast would carry on where they left off.

The lighting was beautiful, and I felt that it helped to emphasise particular scenes very well.

A couple of moments from the play that stand out to me are:

- When Salieri is looking at Mozart’s work that Constanze has taken for him to look at, and he’s realising that Mozart has in fact had the music in his head, and just written it down in one go, without any mistakes or changes whatsoever -  at this point, he’s shocked, and I can’t remember what piece is playing, but as he is standing there, sheets of music start to rain down from above him. I felt it was just so visually stunning, I had to stop myself from flailing, as if you know me, I love something that is visually gorgeous.

- Mozart is discussing music, and the way Joshua McGuire delivers it, is just beautiful. Basically, he says how God is a composer, a musician, and that the human race, all these people on Earth…we are the notes, and that really, us living and talking is the piece he has created. I’m not a religious person, but something about it really struck me. I thought it was a beautiful analogy of music.

The way the light focuses on the performers behind Mozart, Salieri and supporting cast in the vaudeville scene, was done in a beautiful way - the way it was staged, having the performers of the vaudeville behind them, I thought this was done in an inventive way. Earlier in the play, a similar method is shown, when Mozart conducts the orchestra. He is stood facing the audience, right at the front of the stage. This enables the audience to feel as though they are the orchestra, and get to see his face, as he performs.

- The final scene before Mozart dies, between Salieri and Mozart was done in a great way, and I commend Everett and McGuire with how they portrayed both men in this particular scene. It was beautiful.

- I was unsure how they would show Salieri trying to kill himself, so when he pulls a blade out his pocket, and sits down, slitting his throat, it happened so fast, I was surprised to see blood. Not in the sense that it was disgusting.  For me, when I see theatre, if there is to be a major death in a play, I want to see it. Kinda gruesome I know, but it’s theatre, and they may as well go all out. So I’m glad that they showed it.

- I absolutely adored Joshua as Mozart. He did brilliantly, and the laugh? I laughed every single time (obviously quietly if it wasn’t a part where everyone in the audience was laughing). He was just an absolute joy to watch on stage, and I hope he does theatre again soon, as I missed him when he was at the Donmar, and would happily watch him in many other things.
Rupert was great, and I am still in awe of how he changed his demeanour at the flick of a switch, between old and young Salieri. If I had the funds to see this multiple times, I probably would.

I’m shocked that basically nobody, bar a few people in the WHOLE theatre, stood up to give them a round of applause in the encore - in all the plays that I have gone to see, most people will get up when they come out again to bow. I personally feel that standing up, cheering, and nodding to them and smiling when they look your way, shows your appreciation, and that you enjoyed it. I did this when seeing Coriolanus at the Donmar, and was happy to see Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss clearly happy that we enjoyed it, cheering and smiling as we clapped. Maybe it’s because there were a lot of older folk there, so didn’t want to stand up? Anyway, that’s the only gripe - but that’s with the audience, not the play itself or cast!

Overall, a great evening, and I can’t wait to return to the theatre in October for Gypsy.

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