Sweeney Todd

So I’ve decided to work backwards in a way because I’m so behind on updating the blog. I’m going to give information on what I’ve been doing in London recently and fill in the blanks of last week as I have the time and inspiration.

I saw Sweeney Todd this last Tuesday and was very moved by the experience. Much more so than I expected to be, despite not having a great view. I could see all the action just not in great detail because of the distance. And in this world of HD obsession you of course can understand what a difficult experience that can be. But the voices carried and the action was distinctive. While Wicked often strays from the book’s plot while Sweeney Todd remained much more true to the story – given that the story was actually the musical first that certainly makes sense. And I don’t know how closely linked it is to the book as I never actually got around to reading it despite its residing on my bookshelf for years.

The most interesting part about this show and other popular ones is how the feeling of the experience changes with different casting decisions. This version actually seemed darker in a way because of the the cast. Sweeney seemed more demonic (rather than Depp which was a more fantasy kind of demon, the kind you don’t have nightmares about). The Sweeney on stage seemed moodier, more mopey and distance while Depp seemed to have more of a connection to Bonham Carter, this Sweeney really seemed to be oblivious to her advances which she even more desperate than in the movie. She lacks the real emotional connection to Toby rather seeming to only refrain from killing him at first out of a bit of conscious, but later does not hesitate to send him to his death. Perhaps this is lacking in the character development and more three-dimensionality that Bonham Carter brings to the film, but I thought it made it more realistic. Not relatable mind, but realistic. The real dark depths a wronged human can reach when abused far enough are explored in wonderful detail. And yet Sweeney does retain some of his humanity by his never-wavering love for his daughter. Here I do prefer the movie version. Yes he does make the decision to kill the young lad in love with her but Depp seems to bring a real human characteristic to the part while the stage Sweeney seems to still be in a trance as he plans to get his daughter back. He almost seems to be doing it because he knows he should rather than because he deeply desires it. I suppose in a way Depp makes us think there is hope for Sweeney in that getting his daughter back my soften his desire for revenge and move on with his life while the stage production reveals openly that Sweeney is doomed to a life of serial murder without compassion. I suppose in a way it makes me think of the Phantom – he will not show compassion because “the world showed no compassion to me!” If not one of the most famous lines, it is most certainly one of my favorite. It makes us really question why we should rise above the pain another has shown us. Why should we repress the active drive for revenge? It is naturally animalistic after all and these shows both emphasize at times the human relation to our animal predecessors.

And in case you are wondering, no I do not think like this throughout the entire performance of a musical. Sometimes I make a mental note of some aspect I really like, but normally I just sit back and enjoy the show and then ponder my reactions to it afterward. I think going back to see the show again after would certainly be an experience I would like to try. So I shall certainly give you my feedback on Wicked the second time as I do not have time to see any others twice.

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