To Joshua McGuire falls the monumental role of Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, the play which reopens Chichester Festival Theatre after its multi-million pound redevelopment.
By Phil Hewitt
Amadeus focuses on the Hapsburg court composer Antonio Salier, who is highly admired and praised until Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart arrives. As the young genius storms the court, Salieri – ageing and overworked – struggles with his compositions. Bitterly jealous of his rival and ravaged by feelings of mediocrity, Salieri devises ever-darker punishments for his rival and eventually embarks on a desperate course of action...
‘Salieri is such an incredible villain,’ Joshua says, ‘and the whole thing deals with huge themes of life and death and revenge and betrayal and passion.
‘Shaffer’s Mozart is an incredibly sparkly creation. Lots of people remember Mozart for the scatological humour and the childish giggle and the fits of anger, but that’s really only the first four scenes. After that, he is this downtrodden down-on-his-luck artist. He spends most of the play incredibly depressed.
‘But he is an incredibly resilient character. He is the eternal optimist. At every corner, Salieri is tripping Mozart up and denying his expectations, and Mozart has a right to those expectations. He is the greatest composer of his day, and he knows it. But to have every expectation quelled at every turn and yet still he carries on, he is just incredible and I think that’s why people can relate to it.
‘He just thinks Salieri is his best friend. That’s why he doesn’t fight back. There are a couple of moments here and there where perhaps Mozart sees through Salieri... just tiny, tiny moments, but then the eternal optimist flips back out. If Mozart went with his instinct, he might see that Salieri is someone who wants to send him to oblivion, but it is not that he refuses to see it. If there are flashes of the truth, it is that they are overridden by his optimism and by his obsessions with art and opera and the world around him.
‘It is just fascinating to see the whole world through the music. Mozart could tell the note the wind was making as it blew through the keyhole. To Mozart, life and music are just totally inseparable.’
n Mozart plays at Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester from July 12–August 2. Tickets £15–£43. Call 01243 781312 or visit cft.org.uk.
Chichester Festival Theatre returns
It was only intended as a summer venue when it first opened its doors 52 years ago, but now after a £22m rebuild Chichester Festival Theatre has finally got the facilities which befit its year-round opening.
The rebuild took the theatre building back to its celebrated original design, doing away with all the extra, supposedly-temporary structures which had grown up around it. In a major decluttering of the site, old views have been opened up again for the first time in decades and a new extension has been added at the back of the main house.
The extension provides office accommodation, an impressive storage area and a big expansion to the back-stage area.
Surrounding the stage are new en-suite dressing rooms with views onto the park.
In the auditorium, plush new seating has increased leg room and capacity at the venue, while an additional corridor at the back of the auditorium with extra lifts has vastly-improved access.
The old box office area has been extended to provide a café and the main box office is now in the middle of the foyer.
The foyer bar has also been upgraded and increased use of glazing and further decluttering has done away with dark corners creating an open and spacious area.
Extra seating in the foyer also makes it a place to meet friends rather than simply wait for the show to start.