Play review: Amadeus - National Theatre Live

Amadeus Amadeus


Amadeus is a play by Peter Shaffer, written and originally produced in 1979, which recounts the fictional story about the lives of famous 18th century composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. The play was turned by Shaffer into an award winning film with the same title in 1984.

I admit that I can’t really remember if I ever watched the movie, but I was quite familiar with the plot of this play even before watching this production, as years ago I read the poetic drama ‘Mozart and Solieri’ by Alexander Pushkin, which, undoubtedly, served as an inspiration for Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus.


The play depicts Solieri as an established Italian composer in Vienna, who is quite comfortable in his position in society, until one day he hears of a young composer by the name of Mozart who is said to be as eccentric as he is talented. Solieri believes nothing of this until he himself hears Mozart’s music. He is struck by its beauty and feels immediately threatened. As the play progresses, Solieri presents himself as Mozart’s friend while, in fact, plotting his demise. After Mozart’s death and at the end of his own life, Solieri stages the big revelation claiming that it was he who killed Mozart, before taking his own life.


In this production, the role of Solieri is played by Lucian Msamati, who is most probably familiar to many for his role on Game of Thrones. The role of his rival, Mozart, is played by Adam Gillen who looks like a cherub but behaves like a spoiled kid, disregarding social etiquette and causing trouble for everyone. I can only applaud both actors for their! However, if I had to pick between the two, Solieri would be my favourite. I couldn’t help but sympathize with a man who was, perhaps, limited in talent but not ambition and who worked hard to be accepted as an Italian at the court of the Austrian king.  


The play incorporates pieces of operas and concerts by Mozart, and the orchestra assembly is part of the action itself. The musicians are not hidden in the pit but, on the contrary, move freely across the stage. Some of those musical numbers looked rather unusual. I remember one violinist playing while lying on the floor, which left me wondering how she managed it with limited arm movement range. Quite impressive.


I watched this play as a live broadcast on February 2 in my local cinema. I found the first act a bit slow at the beginning, but the second one was more fast paced and powerful. I wouldn’t call this play my absolutely favourite thing but I was very impressed by the acting and music.


Personal rating: 3.5 stars



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