REVIEW: Sweeney Todd, Southwick Opera

S17678H14 Rob Piatt as Sweeney Todd in Southwick Opera's production
S17678H14 Rob Piatt as Sweeney Todd in Southwick Opera's production

THE murky, murderous world of Sweeney Todd is brought to life by Southwick Opera this week in their first production for 2014.

Constant stage smoke and blood-curdling screams added to the nightmare vision created at the Barn Theatre in Southwick on Monday for opening night.

Composer Stephen Sondheim is known for his discordant harmonies, which the company handled well, bringing out the horror and terror as the body count mounts up.

It is the first time Southwick Opera has presented this black comedy in its 49-year history and director Simon Gray has assembled a first-rate cast.

There were several notable performances, starting, of course, with Sweeney Todd himself, played by Rob Piatt.

He expressed the torment of the demon barber of Fleet Street and dominated the stage with his brooding, while Karen Boniface provided the perfect partner in crime in the shape of Mrs Lovett.

Playing her first role with the company, she shone, her acting and facial expressions matching the quality of her singing.

I enjoyed Brogan Webber’s portrayal of Tobias Ragg, but it was unfortunate it was not always easy to hear him over the orchestra.

With the loss of some of his, and others’, words under the sound the instruments, it meant key elements of the plot were sometimes lost.

The final word must go to the clever contraption created for Sweeney Todd, which saw several of the cast delivered directly from the barber’s chair on the first floor to the pie shop below.

Sweeney Todd runs at the Barn Theatre until Saturday, at 7.30pm daily. Call the box office on 01273 597094.