Taking on Peter Shaffer's Tony Award winning Amadeus is no easy feat, but this production truly rises to the challenge. We watch as Antonio Salieri (Charlie Flynn), a composer in his old age, admits to us, the audience, how he assassinated Mozart (Iain Lynn) and takes us through the journey of their rivalry.
The play is excellently directed by Charles Vivian, who’s knowledge and passion for the source material is palpable; he gets the best out of all of his performers. The staging is stripped back– allowing for the cast to truly shine. The 2 hours and 30 minutes of the play race past and there is not a moment where the audience feels left behind. If there were opening night nerves, little did it show.
There is not a poor performer among the cast. Iain Lynn’s Mozart is delightfully unhinged, allowing us to all share in Salieri’s disbelief of his abilities. His monologues (the breakdown over unwanted edits to the ‘Marriage of Figaro’ – all petulance and fury –, the vulnerability of losing his father, and later his pitiable downfall) all superbly performed, bringing nuance to a character that is so easy to overact. He has a great match in Emily Speed as Mozart’s wife, Constanze. She is a breath of fresh air, grounding and delightful - a powerful force in a sugar coating.
Freddie Lawson’s Emperor Joseph II is foppishly brilliant and truly scene stealing. As are Isabelle Cory and Emma Dalton as Venticelli 1 and 2 whose skills as a double act are truly remarkable - I don’t think they had a moment on stage when they didn’t get a laugh.
The standout of the performance, however, is undoubtedly Charlie Flynn, who is exceptional as the patron saint of mediocrity. Flynn’s Salieri shines on stage– his opening monologue completely engrossing, truly capturing the humour, passion and pathos of this complex character. We are charmed by him and we follow his story gladly even as he becomes more and more committed to his delicious villainy. The use of music throughout is excellent and Flynn’s performance allows us to listen through Salieri’s ears. We feel the intensity of the music as he does. He and Lynn are a remarkable pair, playing off each other magnificently - particularly in the scene of their first meeting where their musical repartee delights the audience as much as it displeases Salieri.
Overall it is a truly excellent production that deserved its standing ovation. There is so much room for error in such an ambitious play, with its fast pace and myriad musical and technical elements, but everything came together to create something wonderful. For a play concerned with mediocrity, it is certainly much closer to genius.