REVIEW: Sweeney Todd, Lowther Pavilion

Megan Bruce as Mrs Lovett and Harry McLafferty in the title role in AKS' production of Sweeney Todd at Lowther Pavilion
Megan Bruce as Mrs Lovett and Harry McLafferty in the title role in AKS' production of Sweeney Todd at Lowther Pavilion
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Confidence is the characteristic which shines through every moment of this dramatic interpretation of the Stephen Sondheim musical.

You would not know that it was a school production, as the AKS cast, led superbly by Harry McLafferty as the obsessive barber, fully inhabit their roles, all singing with quality.

Megan Bruce, worldly-wise and very Cockney, provides an ideal foil, excelling particularly as she and Sweeney wittily discuss the human ingredients in her pies.

It’s a smart production with director Faye Horrocks employing a revolving set and symbolic lighting to keep up the pace and building the tension for a spectacularly theatrical finale. Full marks too for choreographer Kathy Preston whose chorus dance and sing spikily commenting on the action in Greek tragedy style.

In a dark production the flamboyant Ben Smyth and George Powlesland seize the chance for comic moments and there is strong support from Christian Mills, Isobel Clark and Phoebe Green, all confident and tuneful.

Oklahoma this is not. Sondheim’s music is strident and full of difficult rhythms, but Harry McLafferty meets the demands even of the lower register with assurance and power in a defining performance.

Toby Stirling