We took Will to see Sweeney Todd at the Signature Theatre in Arlington on Sunday (info). It demonstrated that horror presented live on stage is much scarier than horror on screen (or video game). Will is 11, and at intermission decided he wanted no part of the second half of the play.
We *love* Signature Theatre and based on the first half we saw, Sweeney Todd was typically well sung and acted. I especially liked Mrs. Lovett. However, this is the second time I have seen Sweeney, and it has not grown on me. As well done as it was, it was still relentlessly dark.
I struggled to find a character to like. Sweeney is psychotic. The Judge and Beadle are indescribably vile and evil, the more so as representatives of societies values. Mrs Lovett is a callow opportunist. Anthony is naive and clueless. Who's to like? What's the attraction in seeing Sweeney kill his beloved wife who he believes long dead? I take issue with Signature's web site calling this a 'thriller musical comedy' - I would call is a 'relentlessly dark and depressing musical comedy".
I would like to go back and see the second half of the play at Signature for the sheer quality of the performance, but this is not a play I will seek out. I find it amusing that Sweeney Todd is considered a great piece of art while parents fret about violent video games. Maybe if the video games had better music they would be more easily accepted.
If you are interested in the play, I found a very good synopsis here.