Writer: Stephen Sondheim
Director: Adam Whittle
Musical Director: Steven Mercer
Reviewer: Richard Marsden
With an off-kilter musical score accompanying a story of how the customers of a barber’s shop become the food for the customers of the pie shop below – Sweeney Todd shouldn’t be easy to swallow. The art lies in the illumination of the gristle and grime of human nature- and All Saint’s production shovels it on thick.
This is the first production I have seen by All Saints Musical Society and I was struck by the fact that at £15 a ticket- this is a bargain as audiences are treated to a superb show. There were a few mishaps and I think that the volume was slightly too loud but nothing too distracting. Certainly- the strong chorus and Greek chorus flood the stage and sweep the story off so slickly that there is no time to chew over any wobbly bits.
John Wood as Todd and Beth Hughes as Mrs Lovett are an accomplished pairing. Wood plays Todd with little charm- an unquenchable brute with an appetite for any throat as practise until he can get revenge for his (so he thinks) dead wife and imprisoned daughter. He is bear-led by the frustrated and love starved Mrs Lovett who will stop at nothing for monetary and emotional gain- she labours over him. When they appear preened in the second act, pampered by the profits of their victims deaths- they become a gruesome and farcical comedy duo and work excellently together.
Equally as impressive is Matthew Roughley as Tobias.The shift in his pitch and tone to reflect fear, love and madness is very engaging; he is an accomplished performer who is a joy to watch.
But the ensemble sections and the excellent lighting design really lift this production. The scene where the pie shop is booming and the scene in Bedlam were both very entertaining. The ensemble snaps from tableaux to intrusively snapping and shrieking towards the audience. It is horrible- don’t miss it.