27 January 2018

Amadeus at National Theatre was a seriously nice birthday treat

January 27 was Mozart's birthday and it is also mine so going to see Amadeus on that day was an obvious thing to do. And being a special occasion I put my hands further into my pockets than usual and paid £58 for my seat Olivier Circle A71. At least I got a very good seat for that whereas in the West End that only warrants a restricted view seat in the Balcony.

The treats started before the show and I have the Terrace Restaurant there a try. Normally I only have time for a sandwich but this time I had an hour and a half to fill and eating a good meal was a good way to fill it. It's a tapas restaurant with plenty of veggie options and the hardest part was deciding what not to have. It was not cheap, just over £70 for the two of us (we did have Champagne), but I would definitely go there again.

I was aware of both the play and the film of it but had managed to see neither so went with few preconceptions, other than it was about Mozart and would be a spectacle in the way that Follies was. Both turned out to be true.

Mozart's fictionalised story was told to us by his rival Antonio Salieri (Lucian Msamati) who is featured in the poster because the story was more about him than Mozart. Mozart made up for being the second-string in his own show by being outrageous in dress and manner and I was absolutely delighted to see Adam Gillen play this role building on the character of Liam in Benidorm.

There was a second Benidorm bonus with the appearance of Hugh Sachs, the fourth time that I had seen him on stage altogether and the third in the last year and a half.

The staging of Amadeus was as I hoped and expected being both on a grand scale and with lots of attention to detail. I loved the movement of the orchestra and singers who shared the stage with the actors and also the way that Mozart seemed to spend more time standing, sitting or lying on top of the keyboards rather than playing them. Adam Gillen led the over the top antics to Lucian Msamati's straight man and other joined in the spirit to make this a highly entertaining show despite Mozart spending most of it worrying about money.

There was less music than I expected, it was in no-way a musical, but the music that was used was used wisely. It probably says more about my preferences than anything else that the two pieces that stood out were Il Commendatore's aria from Don Giovanni when he returns and the several segments from Requiem.

Amadeus was, like Follies, a modest story made exceptional by a production that pulled out all of the stops in every department from cast to costumers.

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