Sweeney Todd – review

“What’s the sound of the world out there?'” Well, “It’s man-devouring man my dear”, and the cackling of the Norwich Theatre Royal as a man has his throat slit on stage and proceeds to slide through a trap door to meet his gruesome death by being baked into a pie in Mrs. Lovett’s shop.

Mrs Lovett and Sweeney Todd 1Photo: Theatre Royal.

 An eerie tale of revenge, murder and imprisonment in the world’s shadiest east London cooking show. Mr. Todd’s wife is stolen from him by a judge who is into some low budget S&M (an odd and unnecessary sequence in which our villain whips himself whilst rolling around on stage in a pair of see-through long Johns providing some awkward but hilarious viewing when the average age of the audience was around 50).

However, Todd returns years later to seek his revenge and find his angel-headed daughter by setting up a murderous barber shop into which he invites the judge.

Performed by Norfolk and Norwich Operatic society, the vocals were sharp, with not a note out of place. The choral numbers provided some haunting harmonies, as both the dingy residents of London town and the ghostly members of the asylum form the ensemble. Their individual solos proved that each member of the cast had incredible talent and performed well with a unified energy.

Sweeney Todd (Andy Gledhill) perfected his stoic expression and his voice was utterly chilling but there were a few tender moments that dipped into melodrama and could have been tackled more subtly. Sweeney’s barber shop was cleverly elevated onto a platform, allowing for the trap door below his deadly chair, meaning the audience could view the full black comedy of his murderous mission.

The romantic pairing of Anthony (Matt Willcock) and Johannah (Genevieve Plunkett) was a vocal delight. However, the costume design for Anthony was peculiar and appeared as a cross between a gondola punter and a character from Captain Pugwash – not exactly the attire of the romantic lead.

The performance of the night was the fantastic Mrs Lovett (Stephanie Moore). Mix a kooky disposition, immaculate comic timing and a sublime voice, and you have a recipe for the perfection.  All in all, the production was a delicious but gruesome feast of enjoyment.


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August 2022
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