The Twickenham theatre is a small space with an even smaller stage, set with doors centrally upstage and drains in each corner of the stage signifying our imagination is going to be needed during this performance.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street is a musical thriller with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler, one of Sondheim’s main collaborators. The show is based on the play of the same name by Christopher Bond. Set in 19th century England, the musical conveys the story of Sweeney Todd, previously known as Benjamin Barker, returning to London after fifteen years’ transportation falsely accused, to take revenge on the judge who exiled him.
Director, Derek Anderson, although confined to a small space has grasped his job as director exceedingly well. Of course the question always raised with this musical is ‘how will the killing be executed?’ To answer it, very skilfully, as there was no mechanical chair, trap door, or edge to fall over – I’ll leave the rest of the juicy detail for you to find out when you see it!
Although advertised as a thriller, this musical is full of comedy be it due to the script, directorial choices or the actors themselves. The comedy primarily comes from Sarah Ingram’s quick witted portrayal of Mrs Lovett. Everyone knows the role and script the actor playing Mrs Lovett has to adhere to, however Sarah Ingram utilises and exploits all opportune moments of comedy. Her strong London accent, ‘ladette’ characteristics and comedic timing bring the script to life and at points had the audience in stitches of laughter.
Standout performances come from Sarah Ingram for the comedy genius of her version of ‘Worst Pies In London’, David Bedella’s heart wrenching rendition of the ‘Final Scene’ and Zoe Curlett for her easy vocals when used for choral singing in ‘The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd’.
Reviewed by Tom Yates
Sweeney Todd is playing at the Twickenham Theatre until 4 October 2014. Click here for more information and to book tickets.
Read my interview with David Bedella and Sarah Ingram about Sweeney Todd here