This review was originally written for and published by www.thepublicreviews.com
Matthew Bourne’s contemporary ballet of Tim Burton’s much-loved movie Edward Scissorhands has been re-set to the 1950’s in this breathtaking version.
The storyline follows many of the main plot themes of the 1990 film but it is by no means slavish to the original source material. Bourne has, for example, extended the prologue giving us more depth to the back-story of Edward. The work opens on a superbly atmospheric and arresting vision of Frankenstein-like gothic horror where Edward is created, but it goes on to tell the same tale of the eccentric inventor whose son has been fatally electrocuted during a lightning storm and who creates a replacement; a boy with scissors for hands. When Edward is left alone after his father is killed by local thugs, he ventures into town where he has to fight small-town prejudice and find his place in a superficial world.
This modern fairy tale speaks powerfully of how we treat those who are different to ourselves and how quickly tolerance and acceptance dry up and old prejudices return to the surface at the first hint of trouble. Indeed it shines a timely light on our current treatment of those from outside who choose to make this country their own.
In a superb central performance, Dominic North magnificently registers Edward’s heartbreaking vulnerability as well as maintaining a commanding and charismatic presence throughout. There are performances of the highest order everywhere you look too, indeed the whole production is awash with exquisite tiny detail that absolutely delights: the dancing topiary, the ice-sculpting and Edward’s astounding hairdressing skills to name a few.
The movement sequences, set to an absolutely stunning score by Terry Davies and Danny Elfman are comparatively short and keep interest levels high throughout and there’s a pleasing mix of original and inventive styles.
Lez Brotherston’s sumptuous set design has been heavily influenced by classic 50’s-set movies; Back to the Future and Peggy Sue Got Married spring to mind, making this a visually entrancing, finely-detailed delight.
The sell-out crowd were on their feet as one at the end, sniffling back tears and whooping and hollering their appreciation, there’s absolutely no doubt Matthew Bourne and his company know how to give an audience exactly what it wants.
The word magical is liberally bandied around these days, but this beautifully executed, beguiling and touching tale deserves to be labelled so. Vivid, vibrant and utterly spellbinding to the last, this hard to fault production is yet another unalloyed triumph for New Adventures.
5 STARS * * * * *
Photographs by Johan Persson