There is a powerful moment ~ above the original cast recording the Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. At the finish of his tune “My Friends”, Len Cariou, the actor play Sweeney Todd, elevator his razor and also says “At last, my eight is complete again.” This is the line as he claimed it in the show’s original run in ~ the Uris Theatre in 1979, as well. (you can watch the whole thing ~ above YouTube). This is not, however, the line as it was originally written. In the script, Sweeney says just “My appropriate arm is complete again.”
The explanation for the difference is a basic one. Len Cariou to be a lefty. He organized the razor aloft in his left hand, which intended that Sondheim rewrote the line, removing words “right”, which, follow to Sondheim “effectively takes the strength out that the line.” Coming together it does between the song “My Friends” and the very first reprise of “The Ballad the Sweeney Todd” this heat has controlled to do its means onto every recording of Sweeney. Together it happens, Cariou’s replacement on Broadway, George Hearn, was also a southpaw. Hollywood’s Sweeney, Johnny Depp, and also Michael Ball, who played Sweeney in a 2012 renewal on the West End, additionally cut the “right” native the line. (Although questioning the net whether Johnny Depp is left handed and you will acquire only confusion in return).
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I’ve become increasingly obsessed through Sweeney Todd’s completed appropriate arm in the last number of months. I check out an echo, in this arm, of wilhelm Shakespeare’s catastrophic protagonist Titus Andronicus, a murderous revenger that bakes his adversaries into a pie and feeds lock to their mother. Andronicus, you’ll probably remember, is tricked into cutting off his own hand in order to conserve his sons’ stays – an activity whose only impact is the behanding itself.
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The is together if Sweeney is Andronicus come earlier from the dead, and also as if Sweeney’s razors somehow revitalized the eight of Shakespeare’s ancient Roman.
Today I desire to talk around this eight of Sweeney’s and also what dismemberment can mean in Sweeney Todd. I am going to make an discussion that links revenge and also dismemberment the is going come evolve right into an argument around the pleasures of the town hall violence and also witnessing dismemberment the I believe are at occupational for Sweeney Todd’s audiences.
Revenge, together it is for Titus Andronicus, is the driving pressure behind the plot the Sweeney Todd, yet for what specifically is Sweeney gaining vengeance? What justifies Sweeney’s violence and enables the audience to take it pleasure in the vengeance he enacts?