Forget everything you know about Sweeney Todd, because Another Soup has completely reimagined the story in its musical return to the King’s Head Theatre with Lovett + Todd. This re-telling focuses on the story from the side of Cornelia Lovett, the cruel pie-maker with a cannibal plan.
The story begins when two sisters, Cornelia Lovett (Louise Torres-Ryan) and Amelia Dyer (Rachael Garnett), decide that drastic times call for drastic measures. Their mother (Sarah Shelton) has just died and the pair need to find a way – however morbid – to make money to help themselves and others. The sisters move to Fleet Street after their cover is nearly blown where Cornelia, now on the brink of bankruptcy, falls into the loving arms of the barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd (Daniel Collard).
The saying, ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’, works perfectly well in this context. The story would have been better if it had somehow fit in to the well-known musical. Since this story completely contradicts the original, it is hard to be a fan of it as it seems like a betrayal to the Sondheim musical. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good play – it just feels like an unnecessary retelling.
This cast is 100 per cent committed to maintaining the morbid, intense and somewhat uncomfortable atmosphere. If, like me, you are a fan of the fourth wall, make sure you sit safely in the middle and out of reach because they will interact with you, and if you are at the front they are practically on top of you. This is the most compelling part of the show as the morbid fascination is incredibly enticing.
Somehow the writers have succeeded in making this version of events even darker than the original plot but also so much funnier. Whether you are laughing at the perfect deliverance of the jokes or just out of discomfort – you will be laughing. There is so much dedication from the cast in this performance that it is impossible to go unnoticed. The narration is shared among the cast but the ‘official’ narrator (Eddie Mann) is truly delightful (in a sullen way, of course) and the unfortunate officer (Andy Watkins) is a fantastic accomplice too.
As a musical, it definitely has room for improvement. The singing is a tad on the messy side and often it is difficult to decipher the lyrics – especially if there is more than one person singing different lyrics at the same time. The actual music is quite decent but the writing is so funny that dialogue in the place of the songs wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
It’s a decent musical. If you like dark comedies and pies then this is the show for you.
Lovett + Todd is playing at the Kings Head Theatre until 1 August. For tickets and more information, see the King’s Head Theatre website. Photo: Another Soup.