Scenery Todd’s Cut-throat Christmas
This show was actually two plays or “melodramas” for the price of one, both of which contained much murder and mirth. They were put together by Eden Court Creative’s drama lab. The first play called Murder in the red barn is based on a real life murder that happened in the nineteenth century. It was put together from 3 stage plays by Heather Corpe.
The play follows the exploits of the all round cad William Corder, played brilliantly by Tom Masterton, as he cheats, cons and eventually murders to get what he wants. William is the son of landowner in the country who returns from London to ensure his inheritance from his ill father. He has a fiancee in London but soon takes a fancy to local girl Maria. He enlists the help of an old gypsy lady ,who is actually plotting against him, to successfully seduce Maria. When Maria has a baby he starts to panic that he will be disinherited if his father finds out so proceeds to murder first the baby and then Maria before finally killing the old gypsy and running back to London. Of course he gets caught in the end and justice is done. The play was very old fashioned but still enjoyable with a host of ghosts as William’s victims builds up and the occasional laugh – especially when the old red barn was mentioned.
The second story is that of Sweeney Todd who murders city gents in order to supply meat to the pies of the bawdy Mrs Lovett. The play starts with the Widow Ragg and her son Tobias Ragg forced to resort to begging on the street. When Tobias is accosted by the police investigating the disappearance of city gents in fleet street he is rescued by Miss Oakley who takes pity on the Raggs and sets Tobias up as an apprentice with Sweeney Todd. Miss Oakley is awaiting the return of her sweetheart from sea but is concerned that he has been gone too long and won’t be able to find her as she had to move. Sweeney is murdering with ease and passing the bodies on to be made into pies sold by the two unwitting pie girls. The police are clueless and loving the pies as much as everyone else. It is only when Miss Oakley’s sweetheart returns that the fiendish enterprise unravels.
With lots of songs and double entendres added in for good measure it was a very enjoyable version. The cast were all very good with a special mention to Tobias, played by Rudi Eudan-Paul ,which was acting well beyond his age. The atmospheric music provided by the string ensemble also added greatly to the performance. A nice touch from Eden court was the offer to buy one of Mrs Lovetts tasty meat pies as a pre-theatre snack. Overall the night was entertaining and well put together. FOUR STARS
Reviewers : Lucy and Stewart Tonkin