Sweeney Todd – Reviews Round-up

A round-up of reviews for Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre in London starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.

Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball in Sweeney Todd. Photo: Roy Tan
Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball in Sweeney Todd. Photo: Roy Tan

The acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, which played last year in Chichester to packed houses, has transferred into the West End.

Starring Michael Ball as Sweeney Todd and Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett, the show is playing at the Adelphi Theatre, directed by Jonathan Kent and designed by Anthony Ward.

See below for a round-up of reviews, including The Guardian, Telegraph, Evening Standard and Variety.

LINKS

Book tickets to Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre

Average rating score for this production:
AVERAGE STAR RATING

REVIEWS ROUND-UP

"It’s a chilling performance, sinister and saturnine. Ball is usually associated with warmth and a dimpled, chummy charm. Here, bearded and with an unfamiliar side parting, he is a revelation as the gory slasher whose desire to avenge a wrongful conviction turns into a crusade."

"It is also impossible to praise too highly Imelda Staunton’s performance, as Mrs Lovett... What’s wonderful about Staunton is that she seems so sweet, funny and cosy, and her tender love for Sweeney is genuinely touching. Yet she is actually the real villain of the piece. You gurgle with pleasure at her every good-humoured, wickedly funny entrance, until her smiling face turns hard and her eyes go dead as she realises she must sacrifice the confused young boy she has befriended if she is to safeguard both her profits and her hope of marrying the psycho with whom she is besotted."

"Placing the work in a relatively large space like the Adelphi could have undermined its melodrama - I still recall the intense intimacy of the 1993 National production in the Cottesloe - but director Jonathan Kent, set designer Anthony Ward and Mark Henderson (lighting) brilliantly create a claustrophobic world poisoned by revenge, greed, lust and regret."

"Jonathan Kent's production, which has now transferred from Chichester, and which leaves me grasping for superlatives, has given the piece a fresh look without destroying its essential fabric.... Kent's chief achievement is to heighten the violent shifts of tone in Sondheim's masterly music and lyrics and in Hugh Wheeler's book. You see this from the start, when the chilling prologue, with its screams, factory whistles and echoes of the Dies Irae gives way to the comic spectacle of Mrs Lovett making her disgusting pies, filled with the vermin that Sweeney sees as characteristic of London. And this ability to constantly unsettle us recurs throughout the evening. "

"The power and magnitude comes from Michael Ball’s utter immersion into the title role that renders him all but unrecognisable, while the humour and utter heartlessness is gloriously supplied by Imelda Staunton in fine, fierce comic voice as Mrs Lovett. They are unmissable."

"Staunton, rarely seen as a musical theater performer but an Oliver winner as the Baker's Wife in London's original "Into the Woods," dazzles as an erotically charged Mrs. Lovett. Looking like a creepily overgrown schoolgirl, Staunton makes Mrs. Lovett into more of a psychopath than any previous interpreter while winning every drop of the audience's sympathy with razor-sharp wit."

"This is a production crammed with detail: it is vivid, nightmarish and exhilarating. Bloody marvellous."

"Director Jonathan Kent delivers spectacle. The whole thing is done with artistic oompf. But my neighbour, in her late  40s, repeatedly hid behind her hands and children will be given nightmares."


Date: 25 March 2012
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