There is a distinct style and feel to Mozart & Salieri, but it’s been done before.

Seven Tyrants Theatre is a small company of devoted young artists with a stated objective “to reinvigorate live theatrical performance in the 21st Century”. An admirable goal, but it does beg the question: what needs to be reinvigorated?

[pullquote]… style without connection is challenging, and story without details is distancing.[/pullquote]Last year this same company produced a re-imagined production of John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera that received a near identical staging as this year’s re-imagined production of Alexander Pushkin’s Mozart & Salieri.

In both shows the open playing area with minimal furniture is brightly lit with the cyclorama upstage flashing blue, red and green. In both shows the cast moves in a grid-like fashion, mostly facing forward, wearing exaggerated costumes and pancake white make-up. In both shows they shout lines when the stakes are high, while breathlessly speaking others. In both shows they at times burst into operatic singing and in both shows there is someone who announces each scene: “Fantasia Number One”, “Fantasia Number Two”, etc.

But style without connection is challenging, and story without details is distancing.  If Seven Tyrants does indeed want ‘to reinvigorate live theatrical performance in the 21st Century’ they may want look closer to home.

Despite the repetitive nature of the two shows, there is some wicked violin playing and singing from the trio of actors: Cate Richardson, Masae Day and David Whitely.

There are obviously great intentions and there is likely an audience for this one-hour show, but not only has this company done this before, it also comes across a little cynical and aloof. Ultimately style obscures the picture.

Mozart & Salieri created by Daniel Deorksen and David Newham. Adapted by David Newham from Alexander Pushkin’s play. A Seven Tyrants Theatre production. On stage at the Jericho Arts Centre (1675 Discovery St, Vancouver) until March 14. Visit http:// seventyrants.com for tickets and information.