Amadeus: (seen at the afternoon performance on 8th November 2016).
To use the (modern dress) Southbank Sinfonia is to take this
production to a new and even more revealing level. The music can be heard at the
same 'live drama' level as the spoken word, a glorious fusion which must surely
have been the world in which the composers lived. Sparse elegance elsewhere -
pianos, a moving stage (the revolve comes into its own once again) and a few
chairs are all that are required for this murderous tale of eternity to play
If Lucian Msamati's (Salieri) diction is occasionally not the clearest, his
naked emotion is beautiful and terrible to behold,
his final scenes with his
victim something that would probably be banned for obscenity online, such is the
Adam Gillen (Mozart) is a child (neat costumes, particularly the shoes,
from Poppy Hall and team) yet ageless, man, boy but also genius with
eccentricities fewer than his prodigious talent. Shaffer manages to celebrate,
even as the focus isn't ever on him as the central character.
Excellent support from Venticelli Sarah Amankwah and Hammed Animashaun, and Tom
Edden as Joseph II. Other cast members also deserve plaudits as this is true
ensemble playing, with the integrated musicians sharing all credit.
Yes, it's "sell a kidney for" theatre. That is all the monkey feels anyone needs
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner, used by kind permission.
Macbeth: (seen at the afternoon performance on 14th April 2018). Much has
been said about Rufus Norris failing to fill the enormous Olivier stage and,
equally its auditorium with paying customers. This time, unlike professional
reviewers, the monkey applauds thoroughly his efforts. The massive moving slope
centrepiece (Rae Smith, on fine form) and interior rooms are sufficiently epic
with some gruesome Moritz Junge costumed folk inhabiting them. Norris keeps
things moving - literally, in the case of one sprinting witch - and tries
clearly to ensure the show reaches every corner of the room, going so far as to
put his actors up tall poles with increasing frequency as the play continues.
There are several excellent performances. Kevin Harvey (Banquo) has a rare grasp
of both character and clarity in his speaking, revealing a man whose purity of
heart sets the baseline of morality for the rest of the tale. Stephen Boxer
(Duncan) likewise is a ruler whose actions are made all the more painful to
watch knowing what is to come. Rory Kinnear gives us a Macbeth whose
degeneration is rational even as it becomes ever more degenerate. Anne-Marie
Duff's Lady Macbeth takes more of a cliff-edge approach, pushing her husband and
snapping rather than eroding as is more usual. Why anyone would want dinner with
this pair is beyond comprehension - unless it is in a decent restaurant to
discuss their never less than admirable performances.
Strong work too from Patrick O'Kane as a Macduff whose clarity of vision despite
the horrible demise of his family (a chillingly good scene from Amaka Okafor and
Penny Layden as Lady MacDuff and Rosse respectively) and final defeat of wrong
tallied neatly with the opening mood set.
Also worthy of note are the pair of Irn-Bru swilling chavs Alana Ramsey and
Joshua Lacey, along with other murderer Andrew Frame - worrying, should the
acting dry up. Oh, and the Macbeths should hang on to their domestic assistant
Gentlewoman Nadia Albina, who seems to deal rather well with kooks, as does
their Porter (Trevor Fox) who has a decent knock-knock speech and even better
outfit and accent.
Those who seek discovery and fresh perspective on a regularly revived play are
going to be (and indeed have been) vociferously disappointed. For the monkey,
who simply wanted to see a rendition of the text that was accessible and done
with a good budget and well-directed troupe, it found mostly what it came for.
Make your own mind up, but it is hovering at 3.5 stars for this one, and its
dagger is well sheathed.
Translations: Not yet available.