Friday and Saturday last week saw two nights of the finest performance on the Dean Close stage for some years – with Jack Coombs in the titanic part of Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s AMADEUS – the original part being conceived for Paul Scofield in the famous production at the National Theatre in 1980. Jack was magnificent: he lifted himself superbly for the horribly difficult soliloquies at the start and end of each Act, and his final few minutes on stage were electrifying. He gave us a performance of towering intensity, well beyond his 17 years, as the tortured mediocrity threatened by the young genius Mozart, played with extraordinary verve and giggling energy by Felix Nelson – who also showed us the horrible downfall and sickness of the dying little man. Lily Talbot moved us hugely with her performance showing Constanze’s journey from rather silly wife to tragic widow – her speech at Mozart’s death moved many to tears. Mention should be made of an outstanding ensemble cast too – with a splendidly jocular Grace Greaves as Joseph II, Ethan Bareham as Orsini Rosenberg and Charlie Harris as Von Strack. The team of Venticelli (Salieri’s “Little winds”) were superb at keeping with momentum going, with some lovely rat-like movements as they spread gossip through Vienna.

In the audience on Saturday night were voice coaches from RADA.  They commented:  “We had no idea what we were coming to – and we had no idea we would be faced with this standard”.

A landmark production in many ways for Dean Close School drama.

Lloyd Allington