Review: Sweeney Todd, St Bride’s, Orwell Terrace

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Edinburgh’s newest musical youth theatre group opens for business at the St Brides Church with their debut show.

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Picture: comp

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Picture: comp

Based on Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s classic, Tony award-winning, musical, A-Team Productions have a recipe of results with this slice of murderous revenge.

Sweeney Todd (AKA Benjamin Barker) returns to London after serving 15 years for crimes he never committed. After discovering the death of his wife, who poisoned herself after being raped by the same judge who sentenced him, Barker vows his brutal revenge. Collaborating with a gleefully amoral pie maker, Mrs Lovett, he opens up a barber shop in which he slits the throats of his customers before sending their bodies to Mrs Lovett’s bakehouse.

Sondheim and Wheeler’s musical is indeed a challenging piece for any production company to master. However, A-Team Productions do well at keeping within the balance of its comedy and gothic themes. Unfortunately, Mark Smith, who was due to play Todd, was unable to perform, due to unforeseen circumstances, and was replaced by the show’s director, Sean Quinn. Though Quinn did well at holding his part together, it did allow an opportunity for the remainder of the cast to really bring the show to life.

Hannah Brownlee and Kieran Brown as Johanna and Anthony have great stage presence together and are also a highlight when it comes to some of the musical numbers. But the superficial scene stealer goes to Michaela Robertson as Mrs Lovett, who provides a satisfying mix of comic timing and remorselessness within her character.

For the 24 strong cast, some of whom have never performed in front of an audience, Quinn’s direction shows that there’s been a lot of fun when making this production and he also shows each cast member’s full potential, making for a very enjoyable evening.

• Run ends February 22