Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Whizzed out of work early yesterday so ended up getting a train with the tail end of the schoolies going home. The Kids from Turkey Street (like the Kids From Fame except all blokes and not as photogenic) were rapping on the train. It could have been pretty irritating except they were really, really, good. Apart some fairly predictable references to ‘hos’ and ‘bitches’ they were really impressive. Note : Rapping about your prowess with the ladies comes across better when you’re not 13 and on a train carrying your sports kit.

The reason for leaving early was to get to Covent Garden in time for the opening performance of the new production of Sweeney Todd.

This is kind of a departure for the ROH as it’s sort of half musical half opera depending on how you play it. Well, a musical for freaks, anyway. What it definitely is is fantastic. I don’t need to say much about the score. Come on guys, this is Sondheim at his best: subtle, musical & lyrical, with real undertones of menace and depravity. And of course it’s laugh out loud funny, as well as tragic. The production itself seems to live up to this pretty well. Whenever I review something I’ve seen it always comes out a bit shit so I’ll keep it short. It’s Thomas Allen so you expect him to be good and he is as The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – mad, driven and enraged. Felicity Palmer’s Mrs Lovett is his exact opposite – sensible and practical, but together the two work wonderfully to perform their deadly deeds for profit and revenge. The staging is some of the best I’ve seen with really great use of suggestion, shadow, sight gags and all the 18th century props of beadles and madhouses, cages and hooks. Overall it’s still sparse, as you’d expect from the ROH but no skimping on The Chair. I don’t know about anyone else but when I see someone have their throat cut I want to see them go down a chute afterwards.

I loved it, everyone I was with loved it, and judging from the audience response they loved it too. Get a ticket (if there are any left) and go and see it. Not cheap, fer sure, but well, well worth it. I could watch it all over again.

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