AMADEUS | London, National Theatre

Peter Shaffer’s 1979 Tony award-winning and Oscar-riddled masterpiece has returned to the National Theatre in an overwhelmingly brilliant staging (Michael Longhurst) that blends 2018 with the 18th century.

Setting up for an orchestral concert, the Southbank Sinfonia take selfies and discuss Salieri (Lucian Msamati), unaware that he is there among them, “the patron saint of mediocrity”, speaking to the audience and God (whoever will listen) in the final three hours of his life.

Salieri shows us Mozart (Adam Gillen) as shouty and puerile, with the swagger and bleached hair of a Sex Pistols rocker. But Salieri realised immediately that his music — we hear exquisite snatches of the “Queen of the Night” aria, The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s final Requiem — is immortal.

The twenty-piece orchestra and cast of singers remain on stage almost throughout, transforming the play with experimental choreography (Imogen Knight) and a breathtaking, modern score (Simon Slater) into a true piece of music theatre.

Shaffer’s writing is as extraordinary as ever, but in the age of YouTube and reality TV, the themes of mediocrity battling genius are more potent than ever. The script is an assault on the soul, and this production is an assault on the senses. It has to be seen to be believed.

Tickets still available from £15. Booking until 24 April 2018.

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