A close shave with the demon barber at the Playhouse

Sweeney Todd at West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Sweeney Todd at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Cheesy musicals tend to leave me cold.

But Sweeney Todd sent chills up my spine for different reasons.

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s production was the first I’d ever seen, including the film. All I knew of the demon barber of Fleet Street was the unfortunate men who sat beneath his cut-throat razor ended up as pie filling.

I won’t spoil the secrets of the show – however I can say that the production is one of the finest I’ve ever seen.

At two hours 50 minutes it’s pretty long, but the show flew by and I was gripped the whole way through.

The performers were second to none; David Birrell in the lead role was intense, brooding and, in the final scene, utterly terrifying, and Gillian Bevan as his (perhaps even more twisted) sidekick Mrs Lovett was a stage stealer.

I feel musical numbers tend to slow the story down in many shows, but in Sweeney Todd the story is told through the songs, which kept the momentum going.

Extral thrills were to be had when the 16-strong cast joined in to sing together, accompanied by a faultless live orchestra.

I am always very impressed with the Playhouse’s sets and this was no exception with a clever use of the space.

Sweeney Todd is at the Playhouse until October 26, and tickets are £12-£28.

It’s a fantastic show – and if you prefer scary thanover syrupy, it’s the musical for you.