SLP logo Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
About Us
What's New
Next Production
News & Articles
Past Productions
Contact Us
by C. G. Bond

Directed by Stephen Kimsey
February 10, 11 & 12, 1994

Anthony Hope Mark Kimsey
Sweeney Todd Malcolm Bentote
A Beggar Woman Dorothy Bentote
Mrs Lovett Estelle Dunham
A Beadle Derek Allcock
Judge Turpin Brian Beeston
Tobias Ragg David Higgs
A Balding Man Stephen Kimsey
Alredo Pirelli Tag
Johanna Emma Kimsey
Jonas Fog Richard Holt
The Watch Arthur Plummer

Programme Notes        [ Photographs]       [Printed Programme]

There have been at least six versions of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street since George Dibdin-Pitt's original melodrama was first performed at The Brittania in 1847. However, Pitt's play was not entirely original. It was based on a penny dreadful, a newsheet containing sensational descriptions of depravity, violence and grotesque murder. Where a penny dreadful obtained its 'facts' nobody knows, although there was a Jacobin barber in Paris during the French Revolution who achieved the d'fficult feat (under the circumstances) of shocking the public by committing a series of bizarre murders. However, there the similarity stops; no trick chair and no Mrs Lovett's meat pies.

Melodrama is always written to provide audiences with thrills, hor ror and shock. However, in recent years, the endless stream of horror films have explored every means of doing this, with far greater realism and impact that can ever be achieved on stage. The Theatre's answer to this was to present plays with the cast hamming the passion and sending up the romance. Snarling, leering villains and behind-the-hand asides merely resulted, in most cases, with superficial and crudely constructed plays about one-dimensional characters.

C. G. Bond's Sweeney Todd has characters that are large but real and situations that, given a mad world like are own, are believable. Having borrowed characters from amongst others, The Count of Monte Christo, The Spanish Tragedy and Shakespeare, Bond has achieved a melodrama far from the Theatre's original answer. In this version, Todd has some grounds for his nefarious activities, in that his wife was abducted and raped by the same Judge who deports him for a crime he has not committed. He returns to England to avenge his family accompa nied by Anthony, who has saved his life. Anthony falls in love with the Judge's ward while Todd sets up with Mrs Lovett and provides her with fillings for her pies. He proceeds with his vengeful plans, but the outcome is bitterly ironic.