Master Harold & The Boys is a play about lessons and devastating loss, about how you can’t dance around injustice and its impact.
As a world of harmony tilts into filth you can feel the jolt going through the audience in Athol Fugard’s personal play set in apartheid era South Africa, ‘Master Harold’… and the boys at the National Theatre.
Highlights of the next new season at London’s National Theatre, running from May to October 2019, include several new productions and new broadcasts and outdoor activity announced to celebrate NT Live’s 10th birthday.
There is so much to admire in this revival that it’s hard to know where to start first. Let’s go with Lucian Msamati. I maintain that he was cruelly robbed of at least acknowledgement and nomination in the various end-of-year award shows.
Now back at the National’s Olivier Theatre until 24 April 2018, Michael Longhurst’s production of Amadeus stars Adam Gillen and Lucian Msamati as Mozart and Salieri. Here’s what critics have made of the production’s return to London…
That this is Michael Longhurst’s debut in this theatre makes it all the more impressive and I wouldn’t be surprised if his name doesn’t soon become one of the ones bandied around the round of musical chairs that is London artistic directorships.
Lots of updates coming from the South Bank today after the National Theatre’s press conference earlier this month when artistic director Rufus Norris unveiled programming plans for 2018. Today, further dates and casting for many of those productions are announced.
Julian Fellowes has defended the all-white casting on Half a Sixpence by stating “It is in keeping with period”. Whilst Fellowes justification may make sense to him, it sounds ridiculous to everyone else
The National Theatre held its annual press conference today, announcing myriad new productions, casting and other initiatives. Here’s the official press release. World premieres, new writers and ground-breaking adaptations announced for 2017 at the National Theatre Ivo van Hove follows his acclaimed Hedda Gabler with the world premiere of Network, with Bryan Cranston making his UK stage debut Anne-Marie Duff …
In addition to lists of top productions, Mates contributor Ian Foster reviews his reviews from the past year to award his personal prizes for the best performances for Best Actor and Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress in both plays and musicals…
Peter Shaffer’s play about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri has returned to the National theatre where it premiered in 1979. Lucian Msamati and Adam Gillen star as Salieri and his nemesis.
Revival of Peter Shaffer’s most famous play is more a musical triumph than a textual one.
If you can’t take a joke, you really shouldn’t have joined. Some critics are up in arms that the 1979 ‘classic’ piece Amadeus has been deconstructed and, they say, dumbed down in the National Theatre’s new staging by Michael Longhurst.
“It would make angels mourn”
Perhaps fittingly, on an evening when beautiful tribute was paid to the late Howard Davies, whose invaluable contribution to the National Theatre (36 productions over 28 years) will sorely be missed, there’s a sense of the passing of the guard with director Michael Longhurst making his main stage debut in the South Bank venue. Longhurst has been establishing himself quite the reputation (Constellations and Linda at the Royal Court, Carmen Disruption at the Almeida, A Number at the Nuffield, an extraordinary Winter’s Tale earlier this year, and the brilliant The Blackest Black at the Hampstead, to name just a few) and his graduation here feels entirely earned.
He makes his bow with Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, a play that premiered at this very theatre in 1979 (another sad loss, as Shaffer passed away this summer) and with the enviable resources to hand here, mounts an excellent production. The play depicts a largely fictionalised version of the intertwined lives of composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri and their rival careers, and the Southbank Sinfonia are on hand to provide live orchestral accompaniment. So that when The Marriage of Figaro is premiered, we get an excerpt; when people read the sheet music, we don’t have to imagine the notes of the page, we hear them out loud.
And though the play takes place in the late eighteenth century Viennese court, the Sinfonia remain in modern dress, a constant reminder of the timelessness of Mozart’s music, how it has endured, thrived even. This is best displayed in a breathtaking sequence that closes the first half, Longhurst at his bravura best. Using the full space of the Olivier, designer Chloe Lamford sweeps a platform forwards, backlit with increasingly powerful floodlights from Jon Clark, on which period-dressed singers contrast with contemporary musicians as they give a soaring rendition of part of the Requiem. Then the lights drop, the musical ecstacy pauses and Lucian Msamati’s Salieri gives an excoriating speech as he’s utterly consumed by jealousy – it’s an extraordinary theatrical moment.
Msamati (following on from Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in what must be close to a career-best year for him) is simply superb as the Machiavellian manipulator who can’t believe God has forsaken him for another, his silky asides to the audience rich with biting comedy, his outrage never less than bitterly heartfelt. Adam Gillen is a brattish vision in baby pink Doc Martens along with his finery, a magnificently awesome display of genius-wrapped arrogance that clearly irritates the court as much as his music inspires, and there’s crucial work too from Karla Crome as Mozart’s lover, then wife Constanze, a smaller but no less significant role of real heart.
The biological inaccuracies, such as they are, may still frustrate some but as a psychological study of jealousy, and how we – both as society and individuals – treat those considered to possess genius, Amadeus is a powerful play indeed and this is undoubtedly a stunning production thereof. We’re also amusingly often reminded of the dangers of making judgments – the court often scoffs at Mozart’s work, some people may have previously been unimpressed by this play – but I’m throwing my hat in with this, a resounding success for a cast and creative team at the top of their game, and the perfect tribute to Shaffer.
Running time: 3 hours (with interval)Photos: Marc BrennerBooking until 2nd February, more performances to be announced soon and £20 Friday Rush and £15 Day Tickets available, even for sold out performances.
2016 marks the fourteenth Travelex Tickets season at the National Theatre.
On 2nd February 2017, Amadeus will be broadcast live to over 680 screens around the UK – more info at www.ntlive.com
A Broadway comedy and two British created musicals arrive in the West End this week – one from last summer’s season at Bath’s Theatre Royal, the other after a long stage life of touring regionally and internationally for the last eight years. Will any of them make it to next week’s Top 10 list? This week’s main openings In London: …
This week the London theatre bloggers discuss Caryl Churchill’s latest play Escaped Alone at the Royal Court, the National Theatre revival of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Red Velvet, starring Adrian Lester as part of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season in the West End.
This week the London theatre bloggers discuss The Winter’s Tale, starring Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench and opening the year-long Branagh Theatre West End season, The Hairy Ape starring Bertie Carvel at the Old Vic, A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes at the Tricycle and, now finished at Soho Theatre, Joanne.
Random and topical thoughts and quotes gathered by My Theatre Mates contributor Aleks Sierz, first published on www.sierz.co.uk.
It’s a question of faithfulness. Should an adaptation be faithful to its original source, or can it just take off and roam around like a free spirit? I must say that new versions of classics that stick closely to the original bore me rigid. I mean, if you’re not going to make big changes, why bother? I much prefer adaptations which are imaginative offshoots rather than those which remain slavish growths.
Admit it, ladies. Within the most modestly-clothed and lipstickless of us pale white matrons, there lurks a sneaky wish to be – just for an hour or two – poured into a tight snakeskin dress, rechristened “Peaches”, and able to snarl “When God made me She broke the mould – put an earthquake in the sway of my hips, a hurricane in the curve of my stride and a tornado in the whip of my hair…Even when I’m a disaster, I’m a natural disaster,! This body is a gift and I will unwrap it as much as I see fit. I am a prize! Uh-huh!”. So thank you, Adjoa Andoh, for the brief fantasy. You did it for all of us.
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