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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Twickenham Theatre

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 19th Sep 2014 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

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Preview pictures of next year’s production of Sweeney Todd at London’s Coliseum, where tickets will cost as much as £125, make Emma Thompson look like Mary Poppins and Bryn Terfel one of The Wurzels.

If you really want to experience this gory tale in all its glory however, for just  £15 you can see top West End performers up close and intimate and, at the same time, help the new Twickenham Theatre onto its feet.

For its inaugural production, this 60-seater above the London Road Pub (conveniently just one minutes’ walk from the station) is on to a winner.

To put it mildly, it’s a bloody good night as the demon barber scans the audience for victims and blood spurts freely in what becomes a claustrophobic but exciting space.

Did I say space? That there is not a lot of and yet in several scenes the cast of nine manage to create it as they act out their roles without falling over each other!

Don’t take this personally David Bedella but, the first time I saw you as the erring husband in Putting It Together at St James’ Theatre, I thought you looked like the Devil. I was right. One of your most famous roles, for which you won the 2004 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical, was as Satan in Jerry Springer – The Opera. So you’re made for the role of the demon barber!

But let’s not get as personal as the space in this tiny theatre…

As the wronged husband who returns to London to seek revenge for his wife’s death and to reclaim his daughter, Bedella runs the gamut of emotions. Haunted by the past, the pain and anguish in his face is heart-breaking, but as madness prevails it’s a wonder the blood that spurts from his victims doesn’t curdle.

Bedella, whose voice at times sounds like Anthony Newley, while at others sounding as if it was coming from the very bowels of the earth, more than meets his match in Sarah Ingram as Mrs Lovett. She may be the maker of those famous pies, and at times there are moments of pure madness, but mostly she comes across as an east ender (who won’t be out of place on Albert Square, to be honest) with a huge heart and a sense of humour just looking for love. It is her scenes which get the most laughs and the most applause.

Seeing as this is Stephen Sondheim’s musical version of the Victorian melodrama, the emphasis is on the music, and this production is strong on voices, expertly directed by Benjamin Holder. Special mention should be made of Genevieve Kingsford, making her professional debut as Sweeney Todd’s long lost daughter Johanna: though looking suitably waif-like, her voice is high, pure and memorable.

The production is the directing debut of Derek Anderson, who deserves his own round of applause, but there are just a couple of wrongs which ought to be righted. Mikaela Newton is utterly convincing as the young boy Tobias – except for her flowing blonde locks, which ought to be tucked away under her cap. And it was sometimes obvious that the actors were looking at the screen behind the audience where the musical director could be seen conducting – a bit off-putting.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street continues at the Twickenham Theatre until Oct 4.

Box office: 020 8787 5933

www.twickenhamtheatre.com

Comments

1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 3 years ago
    Thanks, Clare. This is a cracking show and it sounds like this production has brought together a cast to deliver at that same high standard!
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