REVIEW: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Do you prefer your meatpie bloody?
Perhaps it was a mistake that I had just watched the "Serial killers" episode from Netflix's 'Inside the Criminal Mind' right before going to this musical, because these two together haven't helped me sleep well.
For those who don't know it, Sweeney Todd is a dark musical-comedy-thriller. It can be summarised as a pleasing and terrifying mixture of the obsessed incognito revenge from The Count of Monte Cristo, the comic cannibalism of the Delicatessen and the Green Butchers, and the gloomy London sociography depicted by Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Despite being a low-cost show, Sweeney Todd by the Brickhouse Theatre Company must be praised for its brilliant cast. Almost every single cast member deserves a standing ovation.
Satvik Subramaniam in the title role is strikingly suggestive and versatile. He brilliantly turned from a Dr. Jekyllian character to a Mr Hyde-like daemon within seconds. His evil look made me grab the side of my chair, when he was frightening as Der Tod (Death). However, he could also be really funny. I never knew how many refusing facial expression a man can make in three minutes listening to an unwanted love confession til now.
Charlotte Husnjak as Mrs Lovett ruled the stage and the audience. She had a strong presence which led all the attention to her, and she was incredibly hilarious. She was not boring for a minute, and was always surprising the audience.
Abbas Khan played the villain Judge Turpin dealing with Woody Allen- like parenting problems. Like everyone else in the cast, he also had multiple faces and a rich acting style. We have also learnt that the Cambridge BA gown can be a very efficient costume for a "Town" – themed play. Talking about costumes and stage design, someone please tell me where they could get an original old barber chair from.
You couldn't help loving Nicky Vatvani either, playing the extrovert Pirelli dressed like some weird fetish-magician. Jess Beaumont, as Joanna singing the Green Finch and Linnet Bird had a hint of Julie Andrews in her voice. Brandon Lino, embodying the tender and simple Anthony, strengthened the burlesque humour in the show.
It might be strange to say about a cannibal thriller, but all of them were brilliant characters who could carry a stand-out show on their shoulders and voices. This play is a real Dance of Death where all societal classes become equal in death, or more accurately, in pie. The Brickhouse Theatre Company's Sweeney Todd might not be perfect, but it is very enjoyable and I would warmly recommend it for Week 8 blues. But please, don't expect a happy end – Michaelmas generally doesn't have one.