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Mr Monkey sees Sweeney Todd - His Life, Times and Execution! at The Lowry, 20th November

Mr Monkey had suggested to his humans that they go and see Sweeney Todd - His Life, Time and Execution! at The Studio in The Lowry so strongly that they got tickets for him.
Mr Monkey standing in front of the Sweeney Todd programme When he was let into the theatre, Mr Monkey was just slightly alarmed to be greeted by a white-faced tatterdemalion person claiming to be the gaoler of Newgate Gaol, who asked everyone if they had seen a hanging before. Mr Monkey countered by asking if there were going to be any pies during the interval.

Mr Monkey had been told several times that this was not going to be the Stephen Sondheim musical about Sweeney Todd, and it wasn't. Instead Finger In The Pie present a version of Sweeney Todd's life told by the gaoler and several inmates of Newgate, timed to finish at the moment of Todd's execution. Unusually, Sweeney Todd is presented as a rather inept character, rather than the leering monster of legend. Mr Monkey thought this made a nice change.

With a cast of only five (Frank Wurzinger, Alfie Boyd, Rachel Dawson, Conrad Sharp and Helen Taylor) and more than five parts, everyone except Sweeney Todd has at least two roles to play.

The performance is boisterous, bawdy and deliberately shambolic, with some resolutely low-tech special effects and some tidy stage magic. There's also some puppetry and some informative songs (you can hear part of these at the Finger In The Pie website) to set the scene and show Todd's childhood. Live music from a hand-worked harmonium, clarinet and a little percussion adds to the atmosphere.

Mr Monkey left totally cheered by the performance, and rather relieved that at no point were meat pies offered to the audience.

Finger In The Pie are touring Sweeney Todd around the country until December 10th 2010.

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