Oklahoma City Theatre Company's production of "Amadeus" takes a great deal of dramatic license with the actual history of composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, but playwright Peter Shaffer's smart examinations of jealousy, revenge, politics and music appreciation are so striking.
Salieri talks at length to the audience as he plots, rails at God, belittles his court contemporaries, then berates himself. It's hard to imagine anyone enjoying his or her revenge less. Every act against Mozart diminishes Salieri's own soul.
At the center of it all is the hauntingly beautiful music. Salieri is cursed with the ability to see that Mozart's compositions are extraordinary. While he can appreciate Mozart, Salieri's own competent works do not rise to the level of genius.
Salieri's tragedy is that recognition as a strong musician and critic is not enough. If he cannot become the ultimate innovator of his time, he must take down the man who is.
In pale wigs and powder light period dress, David Mays and Bonnie Frances Montgomery are a terrific visual couple as Mozart and wife. Montgomery invests the fragile woman with surprising grit as the going gets tough, and Mays does a great job in his difficult role, which calls on him to be a potty-mouthed giggler one moment and a brilliant, serious artist the next.
But, this is Salieri's story, and Michael Gibbons gives a deep, extraordinarily engaging performance. He pulls the audience into the petty spite and anger, the suffering and shame, but never loses Salieri's own frailty.