There may not be a lot of politics on the stage, but there’s plenty in the aisle seats. I went to see John Doyle’s production of Sweeney Todd at the Eugene O’Neill the other night. Enjoyed it, rather more than I expected. Stripped of both the Grand Guignol Victoriana of Hal Prince’s original and the effete reverence of operatic revivals, Sweeney finally reveals itself as the intense grubby thriller it should be, evening up the balance between Hugh Wheeler’s book and Stephen Sondheim’s score so that, for the first time, the musical moments seem driven by character and narrative. Nice performances, especially from Patty LuPone playing Mrs. Lovett in Hogarthian hooker chic.

That said, the production doesn’t have a lot to say, apart from the usual we-are-all-guilty savage indictment. The show wraps up with the chorus singing, “There he is! It’s Sweeney! Sweeney!...


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