By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
There's nothing wrong with doing low-budget theater, but it can and should be done better than Coronado.
Nobody goes to The Pocket Sandwich Theater to see great art. You pay to take part in a melee, during which a play might accidentally break out. These nights, the frenzy of popcorn-throwing, heckling and general mayhem is interrupted only occasionally by Sweeney Todd: Fiend of Fleet Street, a fairly funny melodrama by Pocket founder Joe Dickinson, starring actors who should get hazard pay for putting up with the unruly, beer-swilling mobs out front.
Like a Chuck E. Cheese for grown-ups, Pocket, Dallas' only for-profit playhouse, encourages its audience to be part of the "entertainment." Free popcorn comes with the price of admish, and it's for hurling at the stage, not chomping as a snack. The performers, bless their hearts, give it their all—at least for the first act. After that, it hardly matters if they're acting or reciting grocery lists. As long as someone's onstage, it's an excuse for the groundlings to fling corn.
Hacked into three short acts with two overlong breaks (for the selling of more comestibles by servers in wench costumes), the show is still over in two hours, which seems reasonable. Anyone who bothers to pay attention will see sharp comic turns by Trista Wyly, as meat-pie maker Mrs. Lovett, and Daniel Baugh as Sweeney Todd, the murderous London barber who supplies the victims who turn up in Lovett's recipes.
The play's not really the thing packing them in at the Pocket (no lie, the place is always sold out). It's sing-alongs, crass jokes, cheap pitchers of suds and the chance to misbehave in public. But those poor actors—they don't even get tips. And they must spend hours after each show picking stale kernels out of their hair.
Light in the Piazza
Sweeney Todd: Fiend of Fleet Street