Peter Shaffer’s masterful play about perhaps the greatest classical composer of them all has at its core one of the modern stage’s finest villains, Antonio Salieri. He is played by Lucian Msamati in Michael Longhurst’s new version at the National Theatre – and it’s one of the most sensational performances to grace London in recent years, swinging wildly from murderous jealousy to self-destructive guilt by way of raging against God, yet always retaining a credible humanity. I was less keen on Adam Gillen’s posturing as the titular genius but Msamati’s turn and the brilliant decision to have the Southbank Sinfonia play Mozart’s sublime music live on stage more than compensates for any shortcomings. Indeed, those two elements alone make this a stunning theatrical experience.


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