September 8, 2007

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. A.C.T. Theater. Runs through Sept 30th.

This production is more bare bones: A single set for all scenes, 10 actors who remain on stage at all times, when they are not in the scene they double as the orchestra (even when dead), and by virtue of having only 7-9 instruments at any one time, the Sondheim score has been cut to its minimalist essentials. And yet it works. All the intensity of the original production is there and, in fact, the ties between characters become heightened. Gone is the magic barber's chair; in its stead is expressionistic (if somewhat obvious) lighting and sound symbolism.
"But there's no one comes in even to inhale!
Right you are, sir,
would you like a drop of ale?
Mind you I can hardly blame them!
These are probably the worst pies in London.
I know why nobody cares to take them!
I should know! I make them!
But good? No...
The worst pies in London..."



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