Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sweeney Brass

We've just returned from an extremely pleasurable night at the theatre, made even more pleasurable by the presence of many of the cast of Brass who were in the audience with me. We went as a little NYMT trip, organised by the lovely Jezza, who'd been given tickets by Hilary Williams, an NYMT angel, and one of the producers of the show we saw tonight.

Talk in the foyer was of the Brass re-writes which I'm currently working on. Word had got around that four roles had been cut from the show and I was instantly cornered and asked to spill the beans. We played a guessing game. It's always interesting to see the characters that people assume are going to go. Three of the characters seemed to surprise no one. The fourth shocked almost everyone. This particular decision even made Philippa, the dramaturg, gasp, and the process has been like cutting my right arm off, because with every line of his that I cut, I'm reminded of the remarkable actor who played the role in our production last year and the real life Pal whom he so exquisitely brought to life. Still, I guess, for an actor, there's something rather comforting about knowing that you were the only person to ever have played a role, and when the show comes round again, he'll have to play someone else.

The show we saw tonight was Sweeney Todd, performed in a pie shop which had been set up in a night club in the heart of the West End, next to Les Miserables. I'm told the original production took place in an actual disused pie shop somewhere in South London. The word intimate doesn't do any justice to the production. It was intense. Claustrophobic. Dark. Brooding. Engulfing. There couldn't have been more than seventy in the audience, all seated at long communal tables which doubled up as stages for the eight cast members, the majority of whom were quite remarkable. Top marks to Siobhán McCarthy, who played Mrs Lovett with humour, pathos and power, and, on the more subtle stakes, the lovely young actor who played Anthony without any of the simpering whimper which so often comes hand-in-hand with that particular role.

It was deftly directed with an almost flawless attention to detail. It deserved every second of its lengthy standing ovation, and I would recommend it without hesitation. But book soon. It's a limited run, and it WILL sell out.

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