ARUNDEL FESTIVAL REVIEW: Amadeus, Arundel Players, Priory Playhouse, Arundel

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Arundel Players are well-known for their top-class dramas but it will be virtually impossible for them to ever top this week’s production of Amadeus.

And for Philip Amor, his performance as Salieri, the eminence grise of the play, must surely be the pinnacle of his acting career so far.

It was undeniably a tour de force. Salieri as a character gives Amor full scope to display his wide-ranging talents. He masters the daunting task of an extremely demanding role to perfection, switching effortlessly back and forth between the portrayal of an ageing and feeble Salieri in the last day of his life and as a manipulative younger persona, consumed with jealousy of his young and more talented rival, Mozart.

Amor dominates the stage and holds the audience enthralled from start to finish, but his accomplished performance does not detract from the all-round excellence of the rest of cast and the staging itself.

Everything comes together flawlessly – words, music, production and lighting. Achieving this is far from easy with a challenging storyline and a relatively-large cast, but director Mike Wells elicits the best from all his players and makes clever use of the Priory Playhouse’s small stage.

Adrian Kenward as Mozart is the ideal foil for Salieri. Childish and vulgar, the young prodigy capers and preens, manic giggles highlighting the immaturity of his erratic personality.

Salieri grows ever more envious and vindictive as Mozart’s musical genius eclipses his own comparative mediocrity. Even after Mozart’s untimely death, Salieri’s jealousy consumes him for the rest of his life. More than 30 years after his rival has passed away, as an old man Salieri prepares to shuffle off the mortal coil, still guilt-ridden and grief-wracked that he played such a large part in poisoning the younger man’s life – and his own.

Deborah Addicott also shines as Mozart’s wife, Constanze, while Salieri’s two agents, the Venticelli, played by Liz McNally and David Bennett as cheeky Scots, guide us admirably through the action. The rest of the cast are equally impressive, every member adding their part to a highly-successful whole.

The costumes are splendid, the lighting superb and the staging brilliantly executed, all excellent elements of a really stunning production that will surely go down in the annals of the Arundel Players as a truly memorable achievement.

Jo Rothery