Amadeus – reviews of 'superb' Chichester theatre revival

Jul 22, 2014

Rupert Everett gives 'best stage performance to date' in Shaffer's scintillating tale of jealousy

Manuel Harlan
What you need to know

A revival of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus starring Rupert Everett has opened at the newly renovated Chichester Festival Theatre. Shaffer' fictionalised account of the lives of the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri was adapted into an Academy-Award winning movie in 1981.  

Set in the Hapsburg Court, it follows the story of an admired but ageing composer, Antonio Salieri, who is tortured by the new-found celebrity of a foul-mouthed wunderkind, Mozart. Believing God has abandoned him, Salieri embarks on a sinister plan to destroy his rival.

Jonathan Church directs Rupert Everett as Salieri and Joshua McGuire as Mozart. Runs until 2 August.

What the critics like

The first production in the refurbished theatre is "a superb new staging" of Amadeus, says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. This often darkly amusing melodrama, featuring some of Mozart's most sublime music, proves gripping in Church's compelling staging – "bravo!"

This production of Shaffer's twisted and scintillating costume drama features "Everett's best stage performance to date", says Kate Bassett in The Times. Polished and vibrant, it's a fitting celebration of Shaffer's 50-year association with this theatre.

Everett cuts an imposing, darkly saturnine figure in Church's "flamboyant, thriller-ish production", says Paul Taylor in The Independent. He puts his intelligent stamp on his role while McGuire gives a superb performance – with shades of Tom Hollander and Rik Mayall.

What they don't like

Shaffer's play "is not unflawed" and distorts historical reality with its portrait of Mozart as a lone genius, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. But, even if it overplays the idea of Mozart as a potty-mouthed conduit for divine music, it's a compelling drama about destructive envy that offers playgoers the sensual delights of grand opera.

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