By Mark A. Leon
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was given the rarest of gifts; a brilliance so rare it was incomprehensible in his time.? He felt the music of the world and served as a messenger with his composition.? Hints of his brilliance are captured in Kyle Barnette’s latest What If? Productions of Amadeus playing at the Threshold Repertory Theatre.
This carefully scripted masterpiece is only matched by its hauntingly beautiful acting.? Brannen Daugherty as Antonio Salieri is triumphant as a man who must fight his inner demons and jealousy for the divine prodigy Mozart while maintaining poise and a level of rationality.? What may be one of the most compelling scenes in Charleston theater this season, Daugherty closes the first act with an monologue and impassioned conversation with the Almighty Lord that builds on his madness and jealousy.? The power and rawness of this scene is complimented with flawlessly choreographed music and lighting that leaves shivers throughout the audience.
College of Charleston Senior Theater Major Nathan D. Cooper has a promising future ahead of him.? His depiction of Mozart is spirited, channeling the madness of genius throughout the performance.? His nervous laugh, unrelenting grip on childhood innocence and fierce determination for musical perfection is exquisite.? He delivers a performance as inspiring as the compositions of Mozart that have lasted the test of time.
As Mozart’s physical and mental decline is catapulted like a mudslide into a dark cavern, you can see him falling further away from reality to a point where his mind and body are behind his own control.? Yet, in these moments where his dreams are leading him to the angel of death, his reaches the pinnacle of success.? He greatest requiem occurs when sanity and insanity become one.
As the two worlds of Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart merge, we are brought into a tangled web of deceit, jealously and spiritual uncertainty.? This is an empowered evening of drama that is one of the finest shows of the season in Charleston.
James Ketelaar and Bess Lawson, both coming off their triumphant performances in Evil Dead continue to shine as Emperor Joseph and Katherina Cavalieri.
Kimi Hugli is wonderful as Constanze Weber, Mozart’s devoted wife who must compromise her principles and at times her very being to stand firmly by her husband, who spends his life battling demons he cannot control.? Her most riveting scenes occur in Act II when she must endure the pain of watching her most loved slip away from her and having no control to stop the inevitable.
A special consideration must be made to Taylor-Ann Spencer for bringing the period of the 1700 and 1800’s Austria to life with the beautiful costume design.
Sometime you find hope in tragedy and theater is a mechanism that can derive extreme emotion.? What If? Productions adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus is a triumph and must see.