The National’s blockbuster 2016 production of Amadeus is rewarded with a second run that’s destined to once again have patrons of the Olivier in raptures.
It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser, combining the intellectual whiff of classical music, an insouciant scatological humour and visually arresting set pieces. It tells the sad tale of Salieri, the Viennese court composer rumoured to have poisoned the young Mozart. He is portrayed as devout man of God, having risen to his eminent position through a combination of prayer and hard work.
His world is brought crashing down when he encounters the prolific, effortless genius of Adam Gillen’s Mozart. To make matters worse, Mozart is a total dick, a pompous, arrogant, ill-mannered little so-and-so who you would walk across hot coals to avoid were he not so gifted. Mozart effortlessly reels off symphonies that Salieri couldn’t hope to produce in a lifetime. What kind of God would curse his loyal subject with such a gross injustice?
Lucian Msamati does the heavy lifting as Salieri, imbuing his character with passion, spite and a streak of sardonic humour. I’m still unconvinced by the utterly unlikable Mozart, with his incessant fart jokes often relegating him to the role of panto dame. But this is an enthralling, impressive production nonetheless.
First published in City A.M.