A Life in Theatre & Television Design
Cwmni Theatr Gwynedd : Three Amadeus reviews
Review in The Stage, 10 May 2001 by Victor Hallet
I don’t know how much Theatr Gwynedd’s Welsh language production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus cost to mount – something comparatively modest I guess – but the result looks sumptuously expensive. Transparent panels in a semi circle, a chequered floor, a gilded baroque frame for projected images, a central proscenium arch, glorious costumes and there is Salieri’s Vienna.
Salieri is the core of the play. Wynford Ellis Owen’s multi-
Arwel Gruffydd is a superb Mozart. The childish, insanely giggling buffoon gives way movingly to the pitiful dignity of poverty – and you believe he wrote the music. Nia Williams is a beautiful down to earth Constanze, she is a genuinely loving wife.
Owen Arwyn and Cian Marc are a perfect double as the Venticelli, and they make a lovely pair of trees. The other characters are deliberately seen as ciphers, but all are given precise, if cartoonish life, especially Gwyn Parry as Emperor Joseph II.
The other vital character is the music, and the sound is particularly well handled, every cue at exactly the sound level asked for in the script, whether whisperingly quiet or painfully thunderous.
Graham Laker’s direction is so skilfully paced that the play’s three hours slip by unnoticed/ This fine production is one of which all concerned should feel proud.
Review by Elin Wyn Davies
Rewiew from the Welsh translated in Google Translate.
Directed by Graham Laker.
Amadeus is a chilling drama based on the life of two musicians of the eighteenth century. What gave rise to the original play was the suspicious circumstances around the of death of the musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; he was poisoned by another composer, Antonio Salieri. Those interested in classical music, or know much about Mozart's life, have much to enjoy in the drama. If you appreciate fine acting and professional production, then you will enjoy this play.
The play is set in Vienna, in November 1823, Salieri recalls his life, on the eve of his death. I got a taste of his life and his stormy relationship with Mozart, between 1781 and 1791. Wynford Ellis Owen who plays the central character, Salieri, and admitted that this was the greatest challenge of his career. He is present on stage throughout the performance -
The play is a highly complex, but as Salieiri takes us through the performance, it is easy to understand and enjoy.
There is plenty of humour in Amadeus, which is unexpected, perhaps, given the intensity of the beginning. The amusing and serious sides have been married with great skill.
Mozart is an eccentric to say the least and we were convinced of this by the remarkable Arwel Gruffydd’s portrait. Added to the humour of Mici Plwm and Manon Elis. Plus a mix of Mozart’s and Salieri’s life history in which the notion that some people are born with incredible talent (Mozart) but others are working hard, fail to meet the same standard (Salieiri) is covered. In this case it results in envy. Depicted, is a marked deterioration in personality of both musicians with mental illness which was communicated very effectively.
A very powerful use of music with the sound of Mozart operas thundering through the theatre adding to the feeling of performance. With a performance free from faults I had an evening of pure enjoyment. Each actor is completely disciplined with an effective mix of humour and seriousness. I would commend this production to anyone who enjoys serious drama. Moreover, there is a very impressive and effective set and the costumes of the period are also special.
Performances at Theatr Gwynedd, Bangor on Saturday November 11 and then between November 14 and 18.
Extracts from an article in The Daily Post, 10 November 2000
Eternal riddle of what goes to make a genius
Ken Owen’s Welsh adaptation of the controversial work ‘Amadeus’ is to be seen for the first time at Theatr Gwynedd, Bangor. Filled with drama, and a dazzling set by Martin Morley, it is expected to become one of the highlights of the Welsh stage.
‘Using elements from the lives of Mozart and Saliere, the drama asks why artistic genius is bestowed on some people and not othere’ says Graham Laker, Amadeus director. ‘Some people resent the play accusing it of being a gross travesty of musical history. And certainly the audience should not expect an accurate account of the lives’
‘There is an element of the triller in the play’, says Laker. ‘Seeing a battle between two men and one set out to destroy the other is always of interest’.
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