Review Round-up: Chichester Sweeney a Cut Above?
In this production, set in 1930s London, Sweeney Todd (Michael Ball) is heartbroken over the death of his wife. He returns to London after years of false imprisonment and opens a barber shop to take revenge by murdering all of his customers. Suddenly, Mrs Lovett's (Imelda Staunton) meat pie shop is no longer in short supply.
"Jonathan Kent's powerful production brings out the essential melodrama of the piece without losing some of the almost-Brechtian moralistic elements ... He does make one decision that looks rather odd. The Victorian grand guignol has been updated to a more modern-looking London ... it’s a move that doesn’t really enhance the piece ... Anthony Ward's design ... adds to the air of menace. Ball, looking disconcertingly like Ricky Gervais, is a brooding, saturnine presence and gives a compelling portrait of a man driven insane by thoughts revenge. I’m not sure that his voice quite generates the right amount of malevolence but he certainly is a menacing presence ... It's Staunton's performance that is the true highlight of the evening. She wrings every ounce of humour from the rapacious Mrs Lovett ... Her duet with Ball on 'A Little Priest' is the show’s highlight ... There's decent support too from John Bowe as the villainous judge with Peter Polycarpou as his sidekick but neither of the young lovers, Lucy May Barker and Luke Brady really convinces ... It looks like Chichester has a big hit on its hands."
- Natalie Generalovich