“We were both ordinary men, he and I.”
Though Rufus Norris’ tenure hasn’t managed to nail a new writing hit in the Olivier, it has had considerable success in finding revivals to fill this voluminous space. Follies was a standout from last year, particularly in how Vicki Mortimer’s design swelled to magnificent heights and late in 2016, it was a glorious production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus that rose to the occasion. So it is no real surprise to see that show return to the schedule, indeed the surprise was that it might even have gotten better.
That this is Michael Longhurst’s debut in this theatre makes it all the more impressive and I wouldn’t be surprised if his name doesn’t soon become one of the ones bandied around the round of musical chairs that is London artistic directorships. And his decisions here remain as pinpoint accurate in nailing the psychological torment at the heart of this drama, from the toxicity of Salieri’s jealousy, Mozart’s own struggles in dealing with his genius, and how society also has its difficulties in its treatment of those it elevates.
These are played out near-perfectly by Lucian Msamati’s pompous Salieri and Adam Gillen’s punkish Mozart, both returning from that original production (here’s my review from then), supported by a vibrant turn from newcomer Adelle Leonce as Mozart’s lover then wife Constanze and Sarah Amankwah and Ekow Quartey as the Venticelli. The use of the Southbank Sinfonia to add real orchestral heft to the production remains a real master-stroke too, particularly in the daunting majesty of the tableau that closes Act 1.
In short, you really shouldn’t miss this now you’ve been granted another chance to see it!
Running time: 3 hours (with interval)
Photos: Marc Brenner
Booking until 24th April