The play tells the (largely fictionalised) story of the relationship between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the most famous and successful composer of his day, Antonio Salieri. The two men could not be more different: Salieri is wealthy and respectable, devoted to his wife, his God and his music. Mozart, in contrast, is a childish, vulgar oaf who laughs at toilet humour, sleeps with sopranos – and yet produces the most glorious music of his age. This is the crux of Shaffer’s tragedy – how can God bestow immortal genius on a fool, whilst condemning decent men to mediocrity?
Freddie Lawson (SH) and Laurie Morgan (Rb) captured the contrast between the central characters beautifully. Lawson, as Salieri, gave a performance of genuine gravitas, whilst Morgan, as Mozart, capered manically around the stage in eyeliner and sunglasses.
Love, for both men, takes second place to music; wives and mistresses are merely muses. It is to their credit, therefore, that both Ella Niblett (MSH) and Emily Hartland (G) brought real charisma to their portrayal of Constanza Mozart and Caterina Cavalieri. Niblett’s characteristic warmth was particularly touching in the final scene, where she begs her dying husband’s forgiveness. Hartland’s flair for comedy – and gorgeous voice – was given full reign in her hilarious cameo appearances as the ruthless and ambitious operatic diva.
Huge credit must go to director Harry Waterworth (Rt U6) who masterminded the whole production, from conception to final night. I love watching students go through the process of directing their own shows, from the initial enthusiasm, through the despair when nobody knows their lines in the tech rehearsal, to the triumph (and relief) of a successful first night. It is a colossal test of leadership, creativity and determination, and one that he passed with flying colours.
Dr Helen Brown, Director of Drama