The Everyman Theatre Liverpool is renowned for their unique revivals and cleverly crafted productions.
Yet tonight, their revival of Sweeney Todd may just be their most powerful production to date.
A must see show? Yes.
A masterclass in storytelling? Definitely yes.
Nick Bagnall’s Sweeney Todd combines minimalist staging with emotive storytelling. Every detail, whether that is the clever use of lighting or the use of 21st century attire in place of period costume, further enhances the themes of the story.
Mark Jonathan’s Lighting Design is a work of art throughout. As Paul Duckworth’s Judge Turpin battles with his own morality, the projection of lights to create shapes on the stage floor reflected his thoughts in that moment. It is one of the cleverest use of LX I have seen in a production.
The music and sound is as equally as powerful. Ian Davies’ Sound Design balances tension with anticipation. The moments of silence are queued perfectly, sometimes for moments of revelation, other times for humour. It is very effective. It helps to build the story from one moment of climax to the next, helping the production to move with momentum throughout.
The band, led by the wonderful Tarek Merchant, are phenomenal. They are as much a part of the story as they are in the musical accompaniment. Look out for a particularly humorous moment between Merchant and Mark Rice-Oxley’s Beadle Bamford, which brought much laughter from the audience in the second act.
Taking on the role of Sweeney Todd is the incredible Liam Tobin. His double-denim attired Sweeney moves across the room with purpose. You often forget you are watching Tobin play Mr Todd; it is as if the character is not a character at all, but a living person in the room with you. Even when he is not holding his shavers aloft or singing about the Judge, every emotion Sweeney feels is delivered with a glance or a look by Tobin. It is spectacular.
Kacey Ainsworth is thrilling to watch as Mrs.Lovett. When she is on stage, you can’t take your eyes off her enthralling performance. Her rendition of ‘By the Sea’ is by far one of the best I’ve heard; performed with energy and wit. Ainsworth perfectly balances the determined business woman with the lovelorn, maternal Mrs.Lovett that pines for Sweeney Todd and that home by the sea.
The cast are phenomenal, both individually and as a collective when performing ensemble numbers. As their voices raise higher and higher to sing “Sweeney, Sweeney, Sweeney” in the opening number, the hairs on your arms almost seem to stand on end.
Sweeney Todd at the Everyman Theatre is both a masterpiece and a work of theatrical art. A powerful production that will be remembered for years to come.