What if God was a cruel prankster? What if he created a genius as our rival, someone so blessed with talent he took our breath away, but then gave him the temperament of a spoilt, crude child?
And if then God gave us the opportunity to decide whether his genius flourished or failed? Would we recognise the prodigy, or plot his downfall to cover our own mediocrity?
In Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, Mozart is the petulant prodigy court composer Salieri the embittered older master who alone recognises his rival's perfection. And it is to the temptation to stifle God-given genius, to thwart God himself, that the older man gives in to.
Shaffer's masterpiece is the opening production on the newly invigorated stage at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Re-born after a year-long £22m refurbishment, the theatre was as much on review at yesterday's opening night performance.
Hollywood star Rupert Everett plays Salieri. A master of the waspish put down, Everett excels here in the role of the musician fated by court and emperor yet aware his talents are minuscule compared to Mozart's rising star. His is a tour de force of a performance, marvellous as Salieri comes to realise his efforts to destroy Mozart only bring forth even greater works.
Joshua McGuire Is superb as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We watch spellbound as the child-like man, irritating in his absurdities, moves through hope to despair and eventual catastrophe. A stunning creation.
Jessie Buckley is wonderful as Constanze Weber, Mozart's wife. Simon Jones is glorious in the role of the Austrian Emperor Joseph, his timing brilliant.
Directed by Stephen Mear, Amadeus is a triumph, exquisitely staged, thunderously performed, it rolls across the stage with the passion of a Mozart requiem.
The production is a wonderful debut for the refurbished theatre. Making full use of extensive re-working of Chichester's backstage, Amadeus envelops the audience, its players extending their reach even further than before amongst those watching.
As a taste of what the new theatre is capable of it is a tremendous overture.
Amadeus runs until August 2.