Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street on the West End
Having received a recent Tim Burton style makeover in the Oscar nominated 2007 movie version, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street returns to the West End after an eight year break. I am pleased to inform that it is as dark, bloody and hilarious as ever.
It is directed by the talented Jonathan Kent who creates this engaging and extraordinary dark world. It also has an impressive cast with Michael Ball taking on the hard task of portraying the notorious serial killer Todd and Imelda Staunton playing opposite as his partner in crime Mrs. Lovett.
Even though this is quite a complex musical with alot of conflicting emotions, it has quite a basic storyline. A man (Ball) returns from exile in Australia to London and vows to enact revenge on those who ruined his life and also the lives of his wife and child. He goes back to Fleet Street where he had once owned a barber shop under his original name Benjamin Barker. In the pie shop under this space he is recognised by Mrs. Lovett (Staunton) who gives Todd the original room to set up another barber shop. The subplot is that of two young lovers Anthony (Luke Brady), and Johanna (Lucy May Barker) forbidden from being together by Judge Turpin (John Bowe), who is Johanna’s guardian and father figure but who also harbours strong sexual feelings for his ward. This Judge Turpin also happens to be the enemy of Sweeney Todd, and the very man who separated him from his family out of the Judge’s desire for his Todd’s wife. The various stories interwine leading to an intriguing, non-stop, rollercoaster ride for the whole show.
Having seen this musical on the 21st of June, I highly recommend it. The performances are outstanding, with all the cast being on top form. The stand out performance came from Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Lovett who offered the much needed comedy in the show. Her on-stage chemistry with Ball draws the audience in and offers a happy medium between the darkness of the pair’s actions and the comedic lines played between the two. John Bowe perfectly portrays the erotic, perverted villian Judge Turpin along side the hilarious idiot that is Beadle Bamford played by Peter Polycarpou. Another aspect of the performance which I throughly enjoyed was the narration of the story done by the chorus.
I could not possibly do a review on this musical without mentioning the sets, which were designed by Anthony Ward. It completely fitted the storyline, with the gritty representation of London. The set for the barber shop was absolutely amazing, showing every part of the shop both above and below.
This is without a doubt a highly impressive representation of the classic tale and a definite must see.
Posted by Emma Murphy on at 10:50 am.
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