Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Mozart Question - New End Theatre, Hampstead

The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo
Adaptation Simon Reade
Director: Julia McShane
Reviewer: Honour Bayes

The Mozart Question is a delightfully scored theatrical work which will captivate adults and children alike. Told through the eyes of both a child and the adults around him, this one man show weaves the stories of 4 protagonists into a melodic chorus which heartens the soul in a way that only exquisite classical music can.

The answer to the eponymous question lies within the violinist Paolo Levi who has decided that now is the time for truth. Through this short but sweet 50 minute show we are taken into his childhood memories and are told the answer to the question of why, as a world famous violinist, he has never played Mozart.

Storytelling lies at the heart of this piece and Julia McShane’s delicate and perceptive direction underpins what is a deeply compelling show. Andrew Bridgmont does an incredible job of elegantly bringing to life Paolo, his parents and his inspirational teacher Benjamin Horrowitz; a musician and busker who is happy because now he’s ‘finally a soloist’. A violinist himself, Bridgmont’s soft melodic tones transport one into the adventure with total emotional truth, delicately playing the instrument at the heart of this tale with an integrity which is gently inspiring. As Horrowitz says, beautiful things do happen in the world and although hard sometimes, it’s vital to remember them.

This overarching theme of hope runs through Michael Morpurgo’s wryly comic and enchanting text which has been dynamically dramatised by Simon Reade. Pivoting around experiences within the most horrific genocide in modern human memory, it deals with the subject matter poignantly and gently, softly showing how music can heal even the most damaged of people and how something wonderful can come from something terrible.

As with Morpurgo’s much lauded War Horse, this is a piece which will engage and deeply move people from all ages, young or old and producers Scamp Theatre should be applauded for their part in bringing this story to as wide an audience as possible. A delicate wonder is to be found in Hampstead’s New End Theatre and in this darkly cynical age The Mozart Question will lift the spirits, reminding us that beautiful things do happen in the world and that it’s vital that we remember them.

The Mozart Question runs at the New End theatre until Sat 4th April 2009
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