What's On Stage

Ron simpson

The Crucible

The hope was that this final production before closes for an extensive refurbishment would be a night to remember.

Unfortunately, itís a long, stately, sombre evening of strangely gloomy drama that is memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Peter Shafferís speculation on the bitter relationship between Mozart and Viennese court composer Antonio Salieri hasnít stood the test of time very well and in Nikolai Fosterís handsome but uninvolving revival, almost drowns in a sea of repetitive words.

Beautifully lit by Guy Hoare, Colin Richmondís grand but austere design does little to suggest the glitter of Austrian court life but does perhaps mirror perfectly the grim mood of the storyís bitter central character.

Out of the shadowy darkness comes an outstanding central performance from Gerard Murphy as a man consumed by a destructive passion.

Unfortunately, Shaffer expresses Salieriís potentially lethal obsession in a barrage of self-pitying monologues, all of which are delivered with great flair by Murphy but which ultimately make you long for the man to simply shut up and get over it.

The object of his dangerous jealousy is foul-mouthed genius Mozart, though Bryan Dickís interpretation of the coarse composer never lights up the darkness as it should - itís a curiously understated interpretation that lacks the spark that could bring the evening to life and provide some much-needed humour amid the posturing.

There is a strong cast in support - some old Crucible favourites including Russell Dixon, Robert East and Timothy Kightley all on top form, alongside Nigel Hastings as an amusingly vacant emperor.

At the same time, though, Nicola Burley, as Mozartís wife Constanza, is too often completely incomprehensible, her words simply failing to get past the stage.

Thereís always the music of course - and a little more of that and much less of Shaffer might make for a more memorable evening.

Production information

By: Peter Shaffer

Management: Sheffield Theatres

Cast: Bryan Dick, Nikolai Foster, Gerard Murphy, Nichola Burley, Robert Calvert, Robert East, Mark Hilton, Mike Burnside, Russell Dixon, JS Duffy, Nigel Hastings, Timothy Kightley, Vivien Reid

Director: Nikolai Foster

Design: Colin Richmond

Sound: Mike Walker

Lighting: Guy Hoare



© - Ron Simpson Nov 2007

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