“You’ve never seen Sweeney Todd?!” Fellow students almost gasped as soon as they found out I was going into this experience with no previous acquaintance with the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Other than people getting baked into pies and Johnny Depp starring in the movie version with Helena Bonham Carter, I knew nothing. However, in my experience it’s best to go into a stage production with no preexistent knowledge because everything looks fresh and the nagging notions of what could be done in CGI or previous actors’ portrayal choices don’t dim the performance in front of you.
At the end of October, a group of Sigma Tau Deltans and English professors went to see a production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. Some had seen a performance before, others loved the movie, and for some it was a new experience made complete by posh-feeling box seats. For anyone reading who is just as unfamiliar as I was before this trip, here’s a quick plot synopsis: Sweeney Todd is a wrongly deported barber who returns to London seeking revenge on the judge who exiled him to Australia, raped (and possibly murdered) his wife, and now has custody of his daughter. After some unsuccessful attempts, he decides everyone deserves to die and starts enacting this vindictive justice on his customers. He joins forces with a baker who conveniently uses the fresh meat in her pies. I wish I could say a happy ending is had by all, but what do you expect from a play where your antihero is slitting people’s throats then selling their meat in tasty treats to unsuspecting Victorians?
With such a macabre storyline, the songs were quite catchy and the actors were equally warped and compelling. I don’t think I exaggerate when I say a good time was had by the viewers who afterwards went to an Irish pub because the GPS couldn’t direct them to the restaurant where “Emerson Shelley” had reserved a table.