I have a friend who’s never been to the opera. Never been to a musical. Actually, possibly never even been to a live theatre performance before.
How exciting for him, then, that his very first outing to all of the above will be to Sweeney Todd: the demon barber of Fleet Street.
He looked a little concerned when I told him where we were going (the oh-so-beautiful Isaac Theatre Royal), and for what purpose.
Things got worse when I tried to give a brief plot outline. Perhaps I shouldn’t have started with a line about hairdressers.
How though, does one cover all the important bits, without spoiling the plot twists? Do I talk about wives and daughters, justice and revenge, haircuts and close shaves, meat pies and unrequited love?
Do I mention that Mr Todd first made his appearance over 150 years ago, in the pages of a “penny-dreadful” publication? That there have been more than a dozen different stage and screen adaptations, including the most well-known current movie version starring the now infamous Johnny? Or that Christchurch is the third of the major centres to have the privilege of showing us what a close shave really means?
Perhaps I should just send him to the library to read/watch/discover all our Mr Todd-related resources?
Or perhaps I should tell him nothing. Let him enter the theatre unsuspecting and unprepared in any way for the delicious horrors that are to come …
Perhaps that last one, yes.