I only once saw the late Paul Schofield in the stage, but the memory is more potent than any other theatrical experience.
One Saturday in 1979 I got up early and drove to the National Theatre to queue for tickets for Amadeus, returning home proudly clutching a pair of front row stalls tickets. The main attraction of the front row, if I was honest, was probably the proximity to Felicity Kendal as Constanza, but I have little memory of her, still less of Simon Callow as Mozart. It was Schofield’s Salieri who stuck – and still sticks – in the mind.
I have not seen or read the play in the 26 years since then, but I recall it opening with Salieri in old age thinking back to the time when Mozart burst upon the scene. Paul Schofield stood a few feet away from me, an old man in a cloak. The scene moves back in time and, before my eyes and without any external change beyond the removal of his cloak, Schofield became a younger man. It was all in his face and how he stood, but mainly in his face – a transformation which seemed miraculous yet cannot have involved any trickery. Just acting.