Friday, 1 February 2008

London's Most Infamous Barber

Cinema number eight at the Moviehouse in Yorkgate, Belfast wasn't full, by any means, for the seven-thirty showing of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. I think it had been showing all week, so this was not so surprising.

This was the first certificate eighteen musical I'd ever seen before. It was quirky, starting off with dark, Gothic organ playing; a touch reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow. The two main characters, played by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, wore white make-up and looked the part. Indeed, they both sang well.

There was also an excellent performance from Jayne Wisener, who played Todd's daughter Johanna. Jayne has a beautiful, sweet voice and comes from Coleraine, County Londonderry.

Without going into too many details, it was a tale of a desperate man's quest for vengeance against Society and, in particular, against the lecherous judge who had him transported to the colonies while he (Judge Turpin) helped himself to the poor man's wife & daughter.

Sweeney Todd's barber shop was above Mrs Lovett's pie shop. They became friends; he started cutting the throats of his hapless victims, pressed a pedal beside the chair and they slid down a trapdoor to the production line assembly where they were minced up for Mrs Lovett's pies!

There was an amusing scene where dozens of customers were tucking in to Mrs Lovett's "meat" pies and her shop became so popular that some folk were turned away!

When Todd discovered that Mrs Lovett had lied to him about his wife, whom he believed to be dead (he tragically killed his wife accidentally with his razor), he threw Mrs Lovett into the kiln and burned her alive. Todd, himself, was killed with his own razor by the boy who was their assistant. I'm sorry if all this doesn't make sense: go and see it!

I'm glad I went to see this film. It was gory and macabre; however, there were most credible performances by the whole cast. I understand that Depp underwent a barbering course with one of London's finest barber-shops of today, Trumper's of Jermyn Street.

I've walked past Trumper's many times, never having ventured inside. I do have one of their ivory razors though!

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