The demon barber of Barking's Broadway
PUBLISHED: 14:06 25 September 2009 | UPDATED: 13:14 11 August 2010
ROLL up, roll up, witness the terrible tale of Sweeney Todd. Meet the monstrous murderer, hear his terrible tale. Then watch him hang… So began Finger in the Pie s grotesque, inventive and humorous adaptation of the well-known story about an 18th centur
ROLL up, roll up, witness the terrible tale of Sweeney Todd. Meet the monstrous murderer, hear his terrible tale. Then watch him hang..."
So began Finger in the Pie's grotesque, inventive and humorous adaptation of the well-known story about an 18th century "demon barber", performed at The Broadway theatre last Thursday.
But the audience soon learn that this Sweeney Todd, played by Frank Wurzinger, is no massacring demon.
Instead we're introduced to a mute, shy orphan boy who is taken in by barber Rossini as an apprentice. Try as he might, this clownish figure can't quite master the art of shaving, tooth pulling or bloodletting and so accidently kills his customers one by one (cue some fantastic blood squirting).
But what does one do with all these corpses littering the barber's shop?
Mrs Lovett (Lizzie Wort), the boisterous and rather saucy pie maker, has an idea...and we all know what happens after that.
In this interpretation of Sweeney Todd, recently performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the grisly tale is expertly told through a mix of cabaret music, slapstick comedy, physical theatre and shadow puppetry.
The puppet sequences, influenced by German expressionism, were particularly impressive and it's not surprising to hear the company has worked with the renowned Jim Henson puppeteers.
There were also many funny encounters between the various farcical characters, which more often than not contained a host of sexual, Carry On-style, references ("Oh Sweeney, you're not so teeny!" shouts Mrs Lovett at one point).
All five of the cast members played their roles brilliantly, jumping in and out of roles with ease, while encouraging the audience to sing along, boo and cheer as the story developed (which they did with much enthusiasm).
For those not so keen on slapstick comedy, some scenes may have become a little tiresome.
But overall, this was an exciting and thoroughly entertaining reinvention of a much-loved tale.
And if the rapturous applauds and whoops at the end of the production are anything to go by, last week's audience would no doubt agree.
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