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

Support your community by viewing your local businesses

Please wait

You will be able to read the article in 5 seconds

Thank you for supporting your local community

You may now read the article

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

Iamamiwhoami - Blue

Swedish audiovisual artist Jonna Lee has come up trumps with the year’s most joyously complex pop record.

Friday, November 21, 2014
Neil Young - Storytone

Young offers fans intimate solo and lavishly orchestrated versions of the same songs, with typically mixed results.

Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Chooky Dancers. photo by SYC Studios

This year the intimate surroundings of the Southbank’s Spiegeltent are again host to the motley crew of acrobats, divas and contortionists who together make up La Soiree.

Thursday, November 20, 2014
English musician Argentina vs Croatia

The iconic rocker is dusting off his debut album, Dirk Wears White Sox, for a series of shows this week at Islington Assembly Hall. Here, he explains the unique ethos behind his music that spurred the 1980s’ famous ‘Antmania’.

Most read entertainment

The new legislation is being backed up by an anti-terrorism awareness drive by police forces nationwide.

More than 170,000 tweets have been posted in the last three days using the hashtag #CameronMustGo.

Computer firm Symantec discover malware so sophisticated, they say it suggests government involvement.

The tragic police shooting of a boy in Cleveland prompts state legislators in Ohio to consider new laws for replica guns.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the $m.global.archantvariables.NewspaperTitle e-edition today E-edition