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Sweeney Todd - 10 October 2011
11/10/11 @ 02:54:10 am, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, 916 words   English (GB)

We have spent the day in beautiful, beautiful Chichester. We have loved the place for many years and are very happy indeed to have a reason now to spend a whole week at the south coast. Many thanks to Mr Ball for that!
We were much too early at the stage door but at least we had fun company and the wait would not have been a problem if it hadn’t been for a fierce wind that started t pick up in the afternoon. When we left our flat it was really warm (too warm for a jacket) but at the back of the theatre it was freezing cold after a while. Ah well, no on forces us to stand there for….let’s just say a long, long while. LOL

The crowd was smaller than Saturday (no surprise there). When Michael arrived he was on the phone in his car and very kindly finished the conversation before getting out to us (he could easily have gotten out, shrugged apologetically, waved and walked straight in). But naturally you want to give him some privacy, so we were standing there looking everywhere except for the car for several minutes. So imagine us all standing there trying desperately not to look at the very person we all came to do a proper looking at. Welcome to the twilight zone. LOL As always he took his time (and gosh is he looking fiiiine . A bit like Alex form Aspects with a beard. So THAT’s what has become of the boy – a serial killer.

Not much time for anything else after the stage door, so we rushed home, did the photos and changed.
Can we trust you with a secret? When we booked the tickets for this trip we thought we must have finally lost it. Everyone kept saying what a sad, sinister and depressing show Sweeney Todd was an we decided to spend the last few days of our year’s holiday seeing the show 8 times in one week (plus the two shows on Saturday when we arrived, so 10 time all in all this trip). We were sure we would need anti- depressants afterwards. And now guess what: we could not wait to be back in the theatre, to hear the first notes again, to enjoy the privilege of seeing a masterpiece in very able hands. The tunes stay with you and are very melodic in their melancholic beauty, the staging is just perfect (we feel very, very fitting for a West End stage) and we already dread having to fly home again, and then having only 2 shows left. 12 Sweeneys won’t be enough. It’s addictive!
So there we were again in the company of this haunting, terrifying, handsome stranger on stage.

Once you get over the shock of the gruesome story (yes, they really ARE discussing selling pies with human filling etc. etc.) you can begin to relate to Mrs Lovett finding a dark but compelling beauty in this desperate man. And the sadness…on the brink of tears we watched him mourn the loss of his wife and daughter on his knees (such a powerful gesture of resigned sorrow) and transform from avenger to merciless serial killer. There was a definitive urge to reach out and comfort him at one point, but we would never have Mrs Lovett’s courage to touch him while he’s holding a hungry razor blade ready to strike. Just to clarify, we STILL move as far backwards as the seats allow us when he gets all angry and bloodthirsty (utter terror when he is beginning to circle Mrs Lovett in the finale, really, this is utmost terrifying. A man turned predator.). Just because you can appreciate the beauty in the beast doesn’t mean you lose perspective. This is a deadly man and you would not survive his company long. So we enjoy sitting in the safety of the dark auditorium – spellbound and deliciously horrified at the same time.

It was another great night out and we could hear the people behind gasping in shock and fear every now and then. Always a good sign. And indeed the entire cast received a rousing applause and many bravos at the end. It’s a bit of a relief every time you see him smile at the “curtain call” (there is no curtain at the Festival Theatre), a genuine, warm smile. Not this cold, merciless smile of a stranger.

When it comes to audience reaction it is fascinating to see how people react to being afraid: whenever there is only the hint of an opportunity to do so, people will laugh with all their relieved might. Naturally Mrs Lovett’s character offers many a chance for this but it is the relieved laughter people display at the smallest hint of humor coming from Mr. Todd that is endearing.

What a privilege to be there and behold this breathtaking performance and to be able to go again and again. We would have regretted it not booking tickets for all the shows and one more trusting in Michael’s judgment paid off. He knows his stuff, we know we like his stuff, so we book it, whatever it is. This has been our policy since the Donmar all those years ago and we were never disappointed.

More sightseeing today and then it’s back to the theatre for another rendezvous with Mr. Todd (maybe it’s best to be wearing a scarf…).

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