Tag Archives: Phillip Money

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

 

The Mirror Crack'd

The Mirror Crack’d

★★★

Royal and Derngate Theatre

THE MIRROR CRACK’D at the Royal and Derngate Theatre

★★★

 

The Mirror Crack'd

“Special mention goes for Ward’s restrained performance as the softly spoken starlet”

 

Original Theatre has assembled a first-rate cast for this new adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff of Agatha Christie’s classic novel.
The action is set somewhere in the 1950s, a time when supermarkets and showers are new commodities, and the death penalty is still a deterrent. It’s not too much of a spoiler to report that a murder is committed for which there are a number of prime suspects. From out of town, and whose arrival is causing so much excitement in the sleepy village, are Hollywood legend Marina Gregg (Sophie Ward) with protective husband and film director Jason Rudd (Joe McFadden), co-star Lola Brewster (Chrystine Symone) and amongst their faithful entourage are waiter Guiseppe (Lorenzo Martelli) and secretary Elia (Sarah Lawrie). From within the village are the wealthy Dolly Bantry (Veronica Roberts), the down-to-earth Leighs (Jules Melvin & David Partridge) and Miss Marple’s home-help Cherry Baker (Mara Allen). A variety of personages with colourful accents – some of them over-played – verges close to pantomime on occasion. But as crucial scenes are re-enacted with different interpretations – bravo Jules Melvin – generally the performances are honest and rise above the caricature.

Special mention goes for Ward’s restrained performance as the softly spoken starlet, and Roberts’ bustling Dolly who appears to be the real village gossip.

Director Philip Franks moves this large cast of twelve naturally around the stage. Often in frieze positions whilst action is highlighted elsewhere, occasionally unwelcome shadows are cast from the otherwise effective side lighting (Emma Chapman). Frank’s insightful direction provides a line-up of suspects for us to learn who is who which aids the interval fun of making a guess as to whodunnit.

A central revolving structure (Designer Adrian Linford) provides the imposing backing for both Miss Marple’s living room and the film studio with large French windows and sliding glass doors showing a mirror reflection of the action. An almost constant background of effective incidental music going on behind much of the dialogue (Max Pappenheim) enhances the suspense but also evokes the comfortable feeling of watching something familiar on Sunday evening TV.

For much of the first act, Miss Marple (Susie Blake) sits on a central winged armchair, her bandaged sprained ankle raised, whilst snatches of action take place in front of her. The humorous repartee between her and Chief Inspector Craddock (Oliver Boot), as Miss Marple subtly takes over the questioning of suspects, is well done. Boot, despite a stereotypical moustache and much pacing, holds his own amid the laughter.

As Miss Marple takes to her feet with the aid of crutches, and then a walking stick, the plot moves closer to a denouement. We hear backstories about key players but an effort to provide some gravitas by writer Rachel Wagstaff by tying things together within a common theme of personal loss doesn’t really hit home.

This audience shows that the character of Miss Marple is well-loved and Susie Blake’s reliable and sympathetic portrayal of her steals the show. Who would have thought that this amiable old spinster’s first word on waking up from a dream at the start of the play would be “bugger”?

 

Reviewed on 31st October 2022

by Phillip Money

Photography by Ali Wright

 

 

For the full details of the UK Tour click here

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

 

Animal Farm | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | May 2021
Animal Farm | ★★★★ | May 2021
Gin Craze | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | July 2021
Gin Craze | ★★★★ | July 2021
Blue / Orange | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | November 2021
Blue / Orange | ★★★★ | November 2021
The Wellspring | ★★★ | Royal & Derngate | March 2022
The Wellspring | ★★★ | March 2022
Playtime | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | September 2022
Playtime | ★★★★ | September 2022
The Two Popes | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | October 2022
The Two Popes | ★★★★ | October 2022

 

Click here to read all our latest reviews