The Wellesley’s February programme of LIVE events relayed directly from the country’s foremost stages opens on Thursday 2 February with Peter Shaffer’s celebrated play ‘Amadeus’.
This ‘epic piece of theatre’ won multiple Olivier and Tony Awards when it was premiered at the National Theatre in 1979 and attracted Academy Awards when it was filmed.
It presents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a rowdy young prodigy, arriving in Vienna, the music capital of the world. Court composer Antonio Salieri recognises his genius and has the power to promote or destroy it. Seized by obsessive jealousy he begins a war with Mozart, with music and, ultimately, with God.
In this production, described as ‘a stunning piece of theatre’, Lucian Msamati is ‘excellent’ as Salieri and Adam Gillen ‘captures perfectly Mozart’s whinnying cackle, potty-mouthed puerility and his belief in his own gifts’.
Shaffer’s plays are renowned for their theatrical spectacles; this production of ‘Amadeus’ uses 16 actors, 6 singers and the 20 strong Southbank Sinfonia and has attracted unequivocal critical praise as an ‘epic piece of music theatre’.
The Royal Ballet’s production of Wayne McGregor’s critically acclaimed ballet triptych ‘Woolf Works’ is its first revival since its premiere in 2015. It won McGregor the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography and the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production. The performance is transmitted on Wednesday 8 February.
Inspired by the works of Virginia Woolf the ballet stars three celebrated dancers – the extraordinary 54 year old Alessandra Ferri, Mara Galeazzi and Natalia Osipova – and is set to electronic and orchestral music by Max Richter.
Each of the three acts is inspired by one of Woolf’s landmark novels – all of them essentially autobiographical – Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves along with elements from her letters, essays and diaries.
The opening is taken from Mrs Dalloway with the protagonist looking back on her younger self. Huge wooden frames revolve slowly as Ferri wanders through the character’s own history. Mara Galeazzi plays her younger self.
In the second section Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae, clad identically in gold Elizabethan costumes, are two halves of the same creature, the transgender character in Orlando. On critic said “ Osipova’s extraordinarily flexible technique suggests that even her bones are plastic”.
Set to electronic sound and lit by Lucy Carter’s extraordinary lasers, the final section is an interpretation of The Waves in which Ferri is tossed and turned as if in turbulence beneath a widescreen film of barely moving waves to capture Woolf’s own melancholy and heart-rending death by drowning.
Two further transmissions – the National Theatre’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘St Joan’ and the Royal Ballet’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ – are screened later in the month.
Thursday 2 February ‘Amadeus’ National Theatre 7pm
Wednesday 8 February ‘Woolf Works’ Royal Ballet 7.15pm
Advance booking and more information from merlincinemas.co.uk.