An accessible way to take in some of the best dance in the UK, Matthew Bourne brings this Tim Burton classic to the stage with humour and style.
At the theatre I currently work at, our Christmas show for the past month has been Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands – a dance theatre take on Tim Burton’s classic movie. For those of you who don’t know Matthew Bourne and his company, New Adventures, he’s responsible for bringing dance to the mainstream and creating accessible dance theatre versions of both classic ballets (The Nutcracker, Swan Lake) and more ‘mainstream’ works, all with quirky twists and heavily inspired by pop culture, film and the media.
Edward Scissorhands tells the tale of a boy whose father ‘reconstructs’ him after a freak accident where he’s left with scissors in place of his hands. But his father passes away before being able to add the ‘final piece’ (hands) to his son, and the scissor-handed Edward ends up being taken in by a family in the small town of Hope Springs.
I actually saw this show when it first came out around nine years ago, and it was great to see the updated version which still keeps the often dark but also comedic tone that both the film and original performances delivered. There will undoubtedly be comparisons to the movie as it’s the same story, but this version undoubtedly does Tim Burton’s creation complete justice. A particular highlight was the performance of Edward, originally immortalised by Johnny Depp in the movie, but translated incredibly into dance. The clumsiness of Edward was perfectly performed and demonstrated great athleticism and technical skill, while still bringing out the humour and full range of emotions from the character.
The characterisation of the different families is fantastic, including the all-American Uptons, the gothic Evercreeches and the ‘slummy’ Grubbs. Even within the families, each dancer brings out the unique characteristics of the family members (with help from the colourful costumes by Lez Brotherston), and the interaction and buzzing activity within the ensemble scenes means there’s always something to look at on stage. Scenes were also broken up by short interludes from different families and characters, giving smaller groups of dancers the ability to shine.
The pas de deux (that’s dance-language for a duet) between Edward and Kim are beautifully performed, and the lighting in the darker scenes really complements their dancing and creates the atmosphere within the scenes. And the music certainly deserves a big mention – using original themes by Danny Elfman, composer Terry Groothius creates the perfect score to highlight both the fun and moving elements of the story. The sets (also by Lez Brotherston) are kooky and colourful, with some incredible setpieces including the ice sculpture Edward creates and the dark and menacing cemetery gates.
Although there’s a Christmas scene, Edward Scissorhands is the type of show that can be enjoyed all year round by the whole family – as well as slapstick moments that will have children giggling, there are also moments of innuendo to raise a chuckle for adults. The whole performance has no speaking or singing at all, but Matthew Bourne’s engaging and personality-filled choreography means the plot and characters can be understood by anyone, even if you haven’t seen the film.
Edward Scissorhands is only in London for another week, ending on Sunday 11th Jan, but will tour the UK in the coming months – for full tour dates, click here.
Production photographs (c) Johan Persson