Tag Archives: Bridewell Theatre

Amadeus

Amadeus

★★★★

Bridewell Theatre

AMADEUS at the Bridewell Theatre

★★★★

Amadeus

“It is the role of Salieri that drives the piece through and Chris de Pury gives a masterful and word-perfect performance”

 

Leading amateur group Sedos takes on Peter Shaffer’s epic play of mediocrity versus genius. A deep stage on four levels is littered with over-sized music manuscripts pasted to the floor and back cloth. A harpsichord sits close to the front of the stage.
The first word we hear in a multitude of whispers is the name Salieri. Rumours abound that the former Court Composer has admitted to murdering his rival Mozart some thirty years previously. Director Matt Gould uses his full ensemble dramatically to set the scene with some impressive choral speaking as the rumours – “I don’t believe it” – are spread across Vienna.

Antonio Salieri (Chris de Pury) appears on the verge of madness, eyes rolling and tongue flicking, wrapped in a blanket and moving uneasily with the help of a cane. De Pury will soon have to portray the younger Salieri, sporting a stylish wig and elegant frock coat, and he manages the transformation convincingly, replacing a gruff and gravelly roughness of the older man, punctuated by manic laughs, with a suave and sophisticated smoothness for the younger. If the actor, according to the programme notes, is worried about his Italian language skills it doesn’t show in this performance.

The stolid character of Salieri is soon to be compared with that of the young Mozart (Alex Johnston), already being hailed as the best new thing in town. Johnston cavorts, giggles, and gambols around the stage. An impressive jump directly onto the top of the harpsichord brings gasps from amongst the audience. With near hysteria in his vocal tone for much of the time, however, some nuance is lacking as the play develops. Sporting a leopard skin print coat (Costume Designer Callum Anderson), this design is subtly matched in the leggings of wife Constanze (Jamila Jennings-Grant) and later in patches on their ragged clothes as the couple slides into poverty. Constanze is played coarsely in the style of a footballer’s wife and most notably in both her love play with Mozart and Salieri’s seduction scene this is not entirely convincing.

The four Venticelli are a delight (Christian Brunskill particularly catches the eye) as they keep Salieri informed of the latest rumours around town, their bustling activity heightening the energy levels on each appearance. Appearances of the Austrian Emperor Joseph I (Adam Moulder) are worthy too of note. Moulder makes the most of this near-comic role, with affected vocal tone, mannerisms and gestures, perfectly balanced.

The element of live performance (Holli Farr & Andy Lee) within the production is delightful. The on/off use of amplified sound to allow solo voices to be heard above recorded orchestral music, however, distracts on some occasions.

Scenes involving the full ensemble are nicely done. Turning chairs around to face upstage so that they become part of the audience at the opera is a nice touch. The use of coloured lights changes the mood at a muddled party scene freeing itself from the historical period but guests doing funky dance moves to electronic music seems incongruous.

It is the role of Salieri that drives the piece through and Chris de Pury gives a masterful and word-perfect performance. At his best when speaking confidentially and directly to the audience with a wink and a knowing smile, we learn his inner thoughts. When he believes he has been tricked by God, Pury spits out his anger vehemently. But did he really murder Mozart? Are the rumours true?

 

 

Reviewed on 23rd November 2022

by Phillip Money

Photography by David Ovenden

 

 

Recently reviewed by Phillip:

 

Starcrossed | ★★★★ | Wilton’s Music Hall | June 2022
Much Ado About Nothing | ★★★ | Jack Studio Theatre | August 2022
Ghost on a Wire | ★★★ | Union Theatre | September 2022
Playtime | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | September 2022
A Single Man | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | October 2022
The Mirror Crack’d | ★★★ | Royal & Derngate | October 2022
The Two Popes | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | October 2022
How To Build A Better Tulip | ★★ | Upstairs at the Gatehouse | November 2022

Click here to read all our latest reviews

 

American Idiot

American Idiot

★★★★

Bridewell Theatre

American Idiot

American Idiot

Bridewell Theatre

Reviewed – 5th May 2022

★★★★

 

“the large ensemble inject a real energy into the show”

 

American Idiot, directed by Matt Bentley, follows the lives of three disgruntled young men struggling to find purpose after the events of 9/11. Leaving their small town for the big city with big dreams, the trio’s paths soon diverge when Johnny (Nick Dore) succumbs to his drug addicted alter ego St. Jimmy (Sorrel Brown), Tunny (George Langdown) enlists in the army, and Will (Joshua Yeardley) returns home to look after his young child.

All set to the songs of Green Day’s chart-topping album American Idiot, the eponymous musical explores the political atmosphere of the early 2000s and the presidency of George W. Bush. The album in fact was conceived by the band as a concept album telling the story of a low-middle class American anti-hero Jesus of Suburbia and thus its rendering on stage should not be considered a jukebox musical but rather an already fleshed out tale of woe. The album only has two explicitly political songs – American Idiot and Holiday, both of which feature in the show – but a general theme of anti-establishment is threaded throughout.

Despite its relatively depressing subject matter, American Idiot is a complete romp. The show is jam-packed with songs and medleys and the large ensemble (led by Alice Signell) inject a real energy into the show with their lively dancing and expressive movements (Jen Bullock). The plot itself is simple enough to follow but some more dialogue between songs would really help to bridge the gap between back-to-back songs.

Brown’s performance as St. Jimmy is particularly dynamic and her performance of the song St. Jimmy the strongest in the show. It is a joy every time she is on stage. Dore’s performance is strong too and he truly embodies the early-2000s punk in both attitude and aesthetic. He is wholly believable, and his voice is perfect for his numerous solos. Other notable songs include American Idiot, Know Your Enemy and 21 Guns – all of which the cast deliver with great emotion and enthusiasm.

The band, led by Oscar Denihan, are phenomenal, blasting out track after track. Unfortunately, there were a few technical difficulties with electric guitars not working and sound levels varying slightly, but it was otherwise a fantastic performance from all. James Green on the drums is particularly good.

The set (Andrew Laidlaw) is simple but highly adaptable and the space well used. Black flight cases are used effectively as seats, hospital beds and even coffins of the American soldiers killed in the Iraq war. A Murphy bed is used for certain scenes and cleverly has a shelf with glued-on beer cans on its underside for décor when it is put away.

Costumes (Clare Harding) are authentically early-2000s punk with skinny jeans, flannel and eyeliner abound. Lighting (Olly Levett) is for the most part well done though again there were a few technical glitches with late spotlights and light changes out of beat to the music.

Though a cultural commentary of its time, Green Day’s call for radical change remains relevant today. American Idiot will be a thrill for any lover of pop punk and the amateur cast should be very proud of this production.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Stephen Russell

 


American Idiot

Bridewell Theatre until 14th May

 

Other shows recently reviewed by Flora:
Myra Dubois: Dead Funny | ★★★★ | Garrick Theatre | September 2021
Flushed | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | October 2021
Dick Whittington | ★★★★ | Phoenix Theatre | December 2021
Dog Show | ★★★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | December 2021
& Juliet | ★★★★ | Shaftesbury Theatre | April 2022

 

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