Review: Slash hit for cast of Sweeney Todd at Barnfield Theatre

PUBLISHED: 09:37 03 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:40 03 November 2017

Emma Williams as Mrs Lovett and Mike Hamilton as Sweeney Todd. Credit: Lewis Law

Emma Williams as Mrs Lovett and Mike Hamilton as Sweeney Todd. Credit: Lewis Law

© Lewis Law

Razor sharp and stylish production of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is a big success at Exeter’s Barnfield Theatre.

The cast of Sweeney Todd in rehearsals. Credit: Lewis LawThe cast of Sweeney Todd in rehearsals. Credit: Lewis Law

Murder and revenge was served to perfection as Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street made his home at the Barnfield this week.

Stephen Sondheim’s compelling musical thriller was brought to life by Hot Rock Productions featuring a talented leading and ensemble cast.

Taking the eponymous role was Mike Hamilton. The choice to give the murderous barber a quiet exterior made him appear even more dangerous when he exploded after learning of the fate of his wife and child and setting the course of his revenge on the wicked Judge Turpin (Nigel Broome).

His quiet, serious nature was complemented by the delightful Emma Williams (Mrs Lovett) who punched the eerie, sinister, atmosphere with many touches of humour as the maker of the worst pies in London.

The cast of Sweeney Todd in rehearsals. Credit: Lewis LawThe cast of Sweeney Todd in rehearsals. Credit: Lewis Law

Mrs Lovett made the perfect parent in crime, assisting in Todd’s plans but also trying to help him move on with life. Her love for Todd knows no bounds, which makes the finale more heartbreaking especially after revealing her dreams to be with the barber in the song By The Sea.

Williams also has a wonderful maternal connection with Tobias (played by Laurie Walker) and it makes for a touching performance in Not While I’m Around.

Director David Finlay’s choice not to confine the cast to just the stage works to great dramatic effect over the course of the show and is especially effective teamed with the routines devised by movement director Mai-Lin Hagiwara - whose chilling choreography was fitting for the performances during Halloween week.

From the offset, the production transport the audience to dark Victorian London with its costumes, lighting and the orchestral score as the cast slay Sondheim’s intricate score which features 20 musical numbers in the first act alone.

The set appears simple but it all in aid to showcase one of theatre’s most iconic stage props, the mechanical barber’s chair.

Without being too gory or fake, the scenes in the shop make for some of the most intense as Sweeney tries to lure the judge and his right hand man Beadle Bamford in for a shave.

James Billington was charismatic as the unpleasant Bamford making him the perfect right hand man to Nigel Broome’s corrupt Judge Turpin.

There was also excellent vocal performances from Josie Trapp and Matt Colson as Johanna and Anthony. The pair captured the innocence of their characters with clear and pure vocals which work apart and in harmony.

Daniel McLoughlin also looked as if he was having a ball on stage as Adolfo Pirelli bringing a real dash of sparkle to the gothic setting, he effortlessly switched between the many sides of the charlatan barber.

A stylish and razor sharp production, the cast of Sweeney Todd know how to serve up a thrilling story about love and revenge.

Tickets are still on sale for the remaining shows at the Barnfield Theatre, Exeter, until tomorrow evening.

Tickets cost £16.50 for adults and £14.50 for under 16s.

Visit the Barnfield Theatre’s website at http://www.barnfieldtheatre.org.uk/ or call 01392 271808.

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