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Review of Amadeus by Peter Shaffer performed by The Masque Theatre at The Holy Sepulchre, Northampton

Something like twenty-two years ago I studied Amadeus by Peter Shaffer along with the same playwright's Equus and The Royal Hunt Of The Sun for English Literature. I never saw a live production of it then or since (or any of them), just the film. Therefore when I heard that the Masque Theatre were performing it I knew I had to see it (even allowing for the fact that I had the small matter of sixteen Flash shows the same week). I won't pretend that I remember much about it from back then and I won't necessarily say I remember liking it much. At the time I was just grateful it wasn't Shakespeare which we were doing most of the time (some things never change).

What we have almost with Amadeus is a one man show and that one man is not the title character. Antonio Salieri played by John Myhill is the star of the show, and remembering him for his scene stealing turn as Benedick in some Shakespeare I saw last year, he once again didn't disappoint. For an amateur show, the role of Salieri is a staggering commitment to take on. On stage for virtually all of the production and with the number of lines of some of them big Bard characters, Mr Myhill is simply incredible, needing just a single prompt in a two hour forty-five minute performance is just astounding. When not speaking he is also gloriously in character and his mannerisms and facial expressions while frequently being caught in the hidden recess were wonderful.

While this is predominantly a one man performance show, we have many other delights to enjoy. Not least the dazzling precocious child that is Gary Amos' Mozart. One of the most physical and dynamic performances I have seen, making glorious use of the slippery floor of the Holy Sepulchre to propel his body around. The irritating voice perfect for the role of the genius but oh so annoying and an uncontrollable creature, as Salieri would gladly call him. He is simply a wonderful insanity. He does however spin the madness at the end to a sorrowful mess and this makes the performance all the more powerful for that.

All support cast are once again of high quality. I loved Alex Rex's Constanze, at turns fragile and yet powerful with a down to earth common sounding touch as well. Also an impressively easy childbirth. The constant presence of Owen Warr in the Masque shows is always a highlight, this time perfect as the miserable and booming voiced Baron. My final mention must go to the two gloriously camp Venticelli's Barry Dougall and Mark Mortimer, two comedic roles played perfectly, and I loved there interval appearance in the tea room to announce the five minute warning. A great touch.

Director Clare Brittain has created a lovely version of Peter Shaffer's great play, which I can happily say I now like more than I probably did at school. Great performances coupled with superb costumes and wigs and some impressive tech work made this a lovely way to spend an evening. You have two nights left to catch it.


Performance reviewed: 21st May, 2015 at the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton. 

Amadeus is performed by the Masque Theatre and runs until Saturday 23rd May, 2015 at the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton.

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