REVIEW: The demon barber of Fleet Street descends on Weston-super-Mare - and triumphs at the Blakehay Theatre
PUBLISHED: 09:43 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:45 04 November 2016
Sweeney Todd thrilled a Weston audience last night (Thursday) as the Worle Operatic and Dramatic Society (WODS) retold the story of the demon barber of London's Fleet Street.
The terrifying yet endearing Mr Todd is a barber who has a sinister use for his tools – or as he calls them his ‘friends’.
He slits his customers’ throats and sends them tumbling down to the basement from his barber’s chair.
But Mr Todd is not alone in his activities as his partner in crime Mrs Lovett assists him in making sure the bodies go to good use – in her infamous pies.
While the Sweeney Todd soundtrack is exceptional – and anyone who has seen the Johnny Depp film or West End musical will know it is incredibly catchy – it is certainly not easy to execute.
The songs are incredibly complex with the words often sung at such a speed and a host of strong voices are needed to pull it off and create the eery atmosphere the show needs.
But the talent displayed last night was truly astonishing and the casts’ acting ability was there for an engaged audience to see.
However, there was one stand-out performance and this was from Edward Creswick who took on the title role.
He created a character which was both mesmerising and frightening. I noticed a glint in his eye as if to show the audience he had something deep inside him which makes him capable of committing such horrific crimes.
Creswick – whose professionalism and experience shone through – portrayed anger and sorrow in such a way it made me wonder what was coming next.
But the hardest part about playing the role of Todd is making sure the audience see a more human side and his performance which mentioned his long-lost wife made me feel sorry for him, despite his flaws as a senseless killer.
Mrs Lovett, Todd’s loyal companion, was played by Lynda James and she brought some light relief to the show.
Her light bulb moment of putting the bodies’ meat into her pies was hilarious and her affection for Todd – though not always reciprocated – was easy to believe.
As an ensemble production it worked really well with a talented cast of balladeers who helped tell the story and there was even an element of dance in some musical numbers which I think worked really well.
The production was extremely professional and the set included two levels. The lower level was Mrs Lovett’s pie shop and the upper tier was Mr Todd’s exclusive barber shop.
This was where the bodies were dispatched from and every time one was pushed from the chair to the basement, it made us all laugh – it was perfect for the mood of the show.
What impressed me most was how there was not one weak link in the cast and the show would not have looked out of place on a London stage despite a few opening night teething problems which slightly affected the sound quality on the night.
I would encourage you to catch Sweeney Todd while you can and I am sure you will continue to hum the songs all evening long, just like I was.
Sweeney Todd will be at the Blakehay Theatre in Wadham Street from tonight (Friday) until tomorrow, with performances at 7.30pm.
Tickets, priced £13, are available by calling 01934 645493, or online via www.theblakehaytheatre.co.uk