Sunday afternoon saw us going to the matinee performance of NZ Opera’s production of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, at the St James theatre. As the show started at 2pm, we decided to get some lunch first at Noble Rot wine bar, which is fast becoming a favourite haunt in that part of town. Looking around the bar, it appeared that I was the only male patron of the place. Of course, the All Blacks were playing (in fact, had just finished by the time we sat down) the Pumas in Argentina at the time, so all the "ladies who lunch"’s menfolk may have been down the pub watching the rugby instead. Even so…odd. Never mind, we made our way through the cured salmon, venison tartare, duck liver parfait and littleneck clams, washed down with a glass of Pegasus Bay riesling. Very tasty it all was.
A quick trot round the corner, and we ensconced ourselves in row O. Clearly we were in the first row of the cheap seats, as the next five rows in front of us were empty. As soon as the lights started to dim, there was a rustling and a tumult…people in the seats behinds us all rushed forward to grab the empty seats nearer the stage. We took the opportunity to shuffle up the row one seat, so I had room to man-spread.
The story, you’ll know, is about how Sweeney Todd, a barber, supplies meat in the form of dead people to Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop, downstairs from his barber shop. This production is based on Stephen Sondheim’s musical version, which was also filmed in 2007 with Johnny Depp in the lead, with Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett.
The production was very slick, with a revolving stage to accommodate the shop and the barber’s above it. The singing was of course very good. The Beadle seemed to have modelled his character on someone…I couldn’t recall the name. “He’s like that bearded annoying bloke” I said. “You’ll have to give me more clues” replied Nicola. “Bearded, annoying, tall and thin, gaunt face…” “Oh, Russell Brand!” “That’s the fella!”
The show was nearly three hours long, so we emerged blinking into the sunlight of Courtenay Place at almost 5 o’clock.