Sweeney Todd, the gruesome tale of a murderous barber and his pastry chef accomplice, is unquestionably strange subject matter for the musical theatre – but eight Tony awards and enormous successes on Broadway and the West End testify to its enduring popularity with audiences. Written by Hugh Wheeler, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the musical premiered in 1979 and has seen numerous revivals, including Tim Burton's 2007 film version.
Aaron C. Thomas addresses this darkly funny piece with fitting humour, taking on Sweeney Todd’s chequered history and genre, its treatment of violence and cannibalism, and its sexual politics.
Note on the text
Chapter 1. The Throat That Gleams
Chapter 2. The Throat That Sings
Chapter 3. The Throat That Bleeds
Chapter 4. The Throat That Swallows
Routledge’s Fourth Wall books are short, accessible accounts of some of modern theatre’s best loved works. They take a subjective but easily digestible approach to their topics, allowing their authors the opportunity to explore their chosen subject in a way that is absorbing enough to be of use both to lovers of theatre and those who are being asked to study a play more deeply.
Each book in the series looks at a specific play, variously exploring its themes, contexts and characteristics while prioritising original, insightful writing over complexity or scholarly weight. While other cultural products such as albums and films are well served by this kind of writing, the Fourth Wall series aims to find room between rigorous analysis and the short format of reviews or articles. They are extended accounts that get to the heart of their chosen works without being bound by the density that academic treatments can often require.