Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – REVIEW

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – REVIEW
Image: SWEENEY TODD, Sydney Opera House. Photo: Daniel Boud

This spine-chilling Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler returns to Sydney not only to frighten, but more importantly to mesmerize audiences.

The darkly humorous yet sinister 19th Century tale is set in Victorian London, where the poor eclipse the wealthy. A menacing London barber returns after being falsely incarcerated in Australia to avenge those who have shattered his life – he simply wants them to suffer as he has.

SWEENEY TODD, Sydney Opera House, 2023. Image: Daniel Boud

Can a man be driven to madness by the needless loss of loved ones? Can the obsessive misguided ‘eye for an eye’ approach deliver true closure or ultimately cause further devastation for those who seek it?

This is the first time that the Victorian Opera and New Zealand Opera have performed this production for Sydneysiders to enjoy.

SWEENEY TODD, Sydney Opera House, 2023. Image: Daniel Boud

The brilliant Ben Mingay reprises his role as Sweeney Todd, a role he has performed since 2019, and Antoinette Halloran plays his partner in crime, the somewhat likeable pie-making Mrs Lovett. Both are naturals in their roles, complementing each other’s performances, and audiences should be captivated by their evolving bittersweet relationship.

Other high calibre performers in the 18-strong cast include Harry Targett as Anthony Hope, Ashleigh Rubenach as the beautiful Johanna and Margaret Trubiano as the Beggar Woman.

SWEENEY TODD, Sydney Opera House, 2023. Image: Daniel Boud

This macabre tale of revenge, love and loss is dark, frightening and yet breathtakingly beautiful. The set designs are remarkable and add credence to the story which also concerns romance, mystery, and murder.

The story unfolds to an exhilarating classic musical composition performed by a small orchestra which effectively feels like a musical score from a horror film.

It must be stressed that the gore associated with the throat-slitting scenes is left mostly to the imagination with minimal blood on stage – it’s the suggestion that is effective. The horrors are cleverly overshadowed and conditioned by the ‘razer-sharp wit’ that leads to infectious hysterical laughter from audiences.

For a perfect night out at the theatre this 5 star show is not to be missed. It’s faultless and should appeal to all audiences over the age of 12 who are slasher film enthusiasts, and also to conservative audiences who have a passion for pure theatre and opera.

Are there any gentlemen who are in desperate need of a shave – a close shave perhaps? If so come along to the show and bring your friends – Sweeney Todd has sharpened his razor and is waiting for you!

Until August 27

Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point


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