Search

Theatre review: Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre

13:17 11 July 2012

Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett and Michael Ball as Sweeney Todd. Photo by Johann Persson

Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett and Michael Ball as Sweeney Todd. Photo by Johann Persson

Archant

Thrilling production of great Stephen Sondheim musical boasts some excellent performances

This razor-sharp revival of Stephen Sondheim’s great, grisly musical is a joy to behold, with a pair of sparkling central performances that are more polished than Sweeney Todd’s gleaming blades.

Imelda Staunton all but steals the show as the Demon Barber’s hilariously amoral and industrious accomplice Mrs Lovett, while Michael Ball is equally engaging as the demonic anti-hero himself, cutting a terrifying figure while also managing moments of tenderness.

Comedian Jason Manford – he who left The One Show amid revelations of saucy Twitter exchanges – is a revelation himself in his West End debut, playing rival barber Pirelli with panache.

If you don’t know it already, the story charts Todd’s quest for vengeance. Banished by a cruel judge intent on stealing his beautiful wife, he returns to London 15 years later to discover she poisoned herself after being raped by this man of the law, who now intends to marry his daughter.

His appetite for revenge quickly grows into a ravenous and bloodthirsty hunger – which results in lots of dead people getting baked into pies.

The over-the-top tale is brought to life in all its gory glory in a production that bursts with vitality (more than can be said for Todd’s unwitting victims as he slices his way through Victorian London).

Sondheim’s music and lyrics are typically excellent: chilling, funny, emotional, and constantly inventive, with effective use of a chorus.

The staging is well-executed, presenting a multi-layered scene, its centrepiece a moving platform that holds up Todd’s barber shop and his devil-red chair, sharing the stage with Mrs Lovett’s pie shop and the chorus perched up high; the busy nature of it all reflects the characters’ frenzied minds.

In one particularly memorable scene, Todd casually slits one throat after another, while incongruously singing a delicate ballad to his wife Joanna. The audience gleefully lapped up the comic blood spurts spraying from each neck – as no doubt they did the entirety of this thrilling show. Four stars.

* Sweeney Todd is at the Adelphi Theatre in the Strand, WC2, until September 22. Call 0844 811 0053 or visit www.sweeneytoddwestend.com for tickets.

0 comments

Latest Entertainment Stories

Fri, 16:20
90 year old artist Joan Dannatt in her Islington studio.

Danniel Wittenberg talks to Highgate artist Joan Dannatt about holding her first ever exhibition to coincide with her 90th birthday.

Fri, 14:54
The Greek Larder, York Way, King's Cross

Could 2015 be the year of Greek food?

Thu, 10:52
Ilan Goodman (Liam) and Gina Bramhill (Melody) in rehearsals for Bad Jews at the St. James Theatre. Picture: Robert Workman

The Crouch Hill actress talks to Alex Bellotti about the show’s London debut and why she’s hoping to carve out a niche in comedy.

Tue, 15:14
Radicals and Victuallers

Pub grub is authentic taste of America

Most read entertainment

It’s easy to lose sight of how beautiful London is when you’re crammed into a commuter train. Let these flying Instagram users take you on a bird’s eye tour of London.

People have pretty good memories when it comes to the outstanding performance of a tub of lard on HIGNFY.

The UN ambassador unveiled IMPACT10X10X10, a new initiative to end gender inequality as part of the HeForShe campaign.

David Cameron and Tony Blair are among those paying tribute.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the $m.global.archantvariables.NewspaperTitle e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24
Our trusted business finder