PICK Me Up Theatre's summer of dead-good Sondheim shows continues with Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, before the bodies are even cold from all the Presidential shootings in Assassins.

Director-designer Robert Readman has retained the thrust stage that took up much of the John Cooper Studio Theatre floor for Assassins. Again, chairs and sofas are tight to the stage apron on three sides, with more seating above on two scaffold balconies, decorated with flowers in defiance of the bloody deeds soon to unfold.

The audience is so close up, you can reach out and grab one of Mrs Lovett's pies, make eye contact with the feral London chorus members and feel the rumble as Sweeney's latest slice of the action sends another victim rattling down the shoot like a human bobsleigh to the "pie factory" below.

Yorkshire theatres have tended to present Stephen Sondheim's gothic drama on the grand scale, from Opera North to James Brining's debut West Yorkshire Playhouse production in 2013. Readman had first explored making Sondheim's operatic musical thriller more intimate in his Joseph Rowntree Theatre production in 2008, and now Sweeney Todd really is theatre on a knife edge, transformed into a Victorian chamber piece.

Fleeing Australia, Nick Lewis's Sweeney Todd returns to East London as bitter as vinegar after 15 years of wrongful imprisonment at Botany Bay, vowing vengeance on Judge Turpin (Craig Kirby), the corrupt ward of his daughter Johanna (Maren Fageras Naevdal).

He resumes his demon barbershop business above the worst pie gaff in London town, in which Susannah Baines's Mrs Lovett soon reveals her Lady Macbeth side. She may have no humanity but there is human aplenty in her bloody good pies, once Sweeney's knife goes to work, shortening life rather than hair.

Lewis's dark, intense Sweeney and Kirby's self-flagellating, incestuous judge are the psychological cornerstones here, joined later by Simon Radford's naive young "kitchen assistant" Tobias Ragg, damaged to the point of madness by the murder-is-meat enterprise, while Claire Pulpher's Beggar Woman is a harrowing presence, one that finds its echoes in the mentally ill and homeless left to fend for themselves on our streets today.

Sam Hird's Anthony Hope and Naevdal's Johanna are a surge of sadness as young lovers swimming against the tide like Romeo and Juliet. Rob Fisher's preposterous faux-Italian conman Adolfo Pirelli and Mark Hird's mad-eyed Beadle, the Judge's henchman, provide the comic relief. Baines's Mrs Lovett mines the black humour too: the show's stand-out performance with her relish of Sondheim's macabre wit and dexterous turns of phrase.

Adam Moore's red and bleak lighting and Ian Thomson's sound are spot on; ensemble choreography is deliberately claustrophobic; and the prodigiously gifted musical director Ben Papworth marks his Pick Me Up debut at 20 with brilliant arrangements for string and brass, luscious on occasion, brutal and jagged on others.

Frankly, you should "attend the tale of Sweeney Todd".

Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Pick Me Up Theatre, John Cooper Studio Theatre, 41 Monkgate, York, continues tomorrow to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm, Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk