Matthew Bourne is a genius. There is no other way to summarise the magnificent performance of Edward Scissorhands, which celebrated its first major revival at the Theatre Royal in Norwich this Tuesday. The ‘New Adventures’ production certainly lived up to the Companies’ critical acclaim, through capturing the spirit of Tim Burton’s eerie fairy-tale and beautifully translating it to the stage through dance.
One may be tempted to ask how this is possible, as there was no talking throughout the entire piece, yet the show proved the director Bourne’s own belief that ‘dance can be more expressive than speaking’ , for the audience were completely swept away by all the other components that made this show unforgettable. Indeed it seemed the audience barely knew what to focus their attention on, due to the overwhelming array of visual effects. Whether you were looking at the colourful 1950’s costumes, the non-stop energetic dancing, the innovative set designs or the fantastic characterisation – which was maintained throughout the performance – meant that there was always something to absorb your attention.
Yet, aside from the visual, the performance gave complete theatrical justice to Tim Burton’s unique cinematic vision. Although the setting of the performance had changed from late 1980’s, to 1950’s Hope Springs, this took nothing from the overall interpretation of the film, which was followed to a tee. Indeed everything from the costume design to the musical score was taken straight out of the magical Burton world and fantastically reimagined for the stage. It is therefore not surprising that this show won the original Edward (Johnny Depp’s) seal of approval, when it premiered in Los Angeles.
What made this ballet so fantastic? The magical plot for one, which interweaves wit, pathos and gothic sentiment. Indeed, the story of an outsider, Edward – a boy with scissors for hands, who enters a community he doesn’t belong to, searching for love and acceptance – completely touched and warmed the audience’s hearts, as it is a theme we can all relate to. Yet the beauty of the story- expressively told through the body language, dancing, facial expressions and musical accompaniment, was only heightened through its light-hearted comedic touches: something Bourne stressed it important to ‘relax the audience’. A favourite comedic scene, of both audience and dancer Dominic North (Edward) was that of Edward’s seduction, whereby the plaintive, endearing Edward is harassed by his desperate neighbour Joyce Monroe. Indeed, the way in which Saranne Curtin (Joyce) hounded Edward, provocatively rolling on top of him, mounting the table and chasing him around her garden, to the complete oblivion of her husband, was hilarious for the audience – particularly as Edward tried to escape the vampy Joyce’s advances.
However, the audience were also moved by the moments of pathos and romance. For example, one of the last scenes of performance – where Edward dances in the glistening snow with the beautiful Kim (Ashley Shaw) was deeply moving. Indeed, as the two danced together, with Edward carefully lifting Kim without using his scissor-hands – evoked much emotion in the audience who could not help but feel sorry for the doomed lovers.
Therefore, go and see the performance, where there is something for everyone. It is honestly one of the most stunning and entertaining pieces of ballet I have ever seen. You will not be disappointed!