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 Islington Entertainment Stories

Yesterday, 09:06
Meru Expedition, Garwhal, India. Picture: Jimmy Chin

This documentary following three climbers trying to conquer the Meru Peak offers a wider look at the supercharged tedium of mountain climbing, says Michael Joyce.

Mon, 13:01
Laurence Fox

The former Lewis star tells Alex Bellotti about playing the revolutionary Charles de Gaulle alongside Tom Conti.

Mon, 10:01
Jack Black stars in Goosebumps. Picture: Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.

Michael Joyce says this engaging romp through an iconic children’s book series could just do with a bit more originality.

Sunday, February 7, 2016
Swim Deep

Ahead of a date at Tufnell Park Dome, keyboardist James Balmont talks to Alex Bellotti.

Most read entertainment

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe