Allison F. Rich* as Mrs. Lovett and Noel Anthony* as Sweeney Todd at SanJose Stage (Dave Lepori)

The history of the world, my sweet, is who gets eaten and who gets to eat.

Having lost his family and his freedom to the rapacious corruption of Victorian England, the demon barber of Fleet Street is determined to bite back in the grisly musical masterpiece “Sweeney Todd.”

Now getting an exhilarating post-modern revival by Kenneth Kelleher at San Jose Stage Company, this is a pitch-black jewel that delves into the darkness, not to mention the bloodlust, of the human heart.

One of Sondheim’s most ravishing scores fires a macabre cautionary tale about what happens to people who are cheated one too many times by a callous society. They shatter into brittle pieces and their jagged shards slice into everyone around them.

Set in a bare-bones butcher shop, a smoky charnel house filled with soiled cages and buckets of blood designed by Michael Palumbo, this “Sweeney” feels haunted, a ghostly tale meant to curdle the blood. Kelleher’s stripped-down production potently harnesses the mad demented glee that drives this tale of carnage. The director keeps the pace sharp and relentless, thrusting us ever deeper into the seething pit of Sweeney’s insatiable need for revenge, while never sacrificing the symphonic riches of the score.

Allison F. Rich as Mrs. Lovett and Noel Anthony as Sweeney Todd at San Jose Stage (Dave Lepori).

In this case, the erstwhile barber (Noel Anthony) resolves to give the powers-that-be, namely the venal Judge Turpin (Christopher Vettel) the closest shave ever. Oh, and along the way a lot of other people get their throats slit. The barbershop becomes a slaughterhouse. Pity to waste all that protein, thinks the ingenious Mrs. Lovett, promptly reviving her meat pie business.

Allison F. Rich, a company veteran, oozes unsavory menace as the tart-tongued pastry pusher. Rich mines the comedy from this gruesome business and she captures the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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