Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Liverpool Playhouse, 27th April - 1st May 2004

Reviewed by Barbara Ford

Last night I saw a production worthy of performance in the West End here in Liverpool. The Watermill Theatre Company put on their version of Stephen Sondheim's musical thriller, and I have never before seen so much enthusiasm and hard work put in by a whole group of performers. There was not one weak link in the chain; each of the nine performers gave their considerable all in acting, singing and playing of various musical instruments.

On a 'one set' stage - appropriately dark and colourless - the first half set the scene for the story of one of Britain's most infamous serial killers (I wonder whether there will ever be a 'Dr. Shipman - The Musical') Although a sombre tale, there are many moments of humour - particularly provided by the character of Mrs. Lovett (admirably portrayed by Karen Mann) - the barber's accomplice in crime.

To herald the bloodletting (cleverly achieved with lighting and props -Tarantino has nothing to worry about here), the colour red was subtlely introduced in the second part of the play to great effect. Credit to the set designers and dressers here. The performers themselves carried out all prop movements seamlessly while the focus of attention was on the main protagonists.

Though the whole team shone, special mention must go to Paul Hegarty as Sweeney Todd. His stage presence is awesome, and his voice excellent.

To summarise, if you like musicals, you'll love this. If you don't, go and see it anyway. You will enjoy it. Highly recommended.