Tuesday, July 23

Edward Scissorhands – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Matthew Bourne’s ballet adaptation of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands made its much-anticipated return to the stage on the opening night at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. Bourne’s instinct for selecting iconic stories to adapt aligns perfectly with his choreographic finesse.

Originally conceived in 2005 and revived periodically since, Bourne’s rendition stars Liam Mower as our protagonist Edward, a tragic figure left incomplete with scissors for hands following his creator’s sudden death. Mower’s portrayal captures the essence of Johnny Depp’s iconic performance, as he takes us along Edward’s journey from perplexed isolation to communal acceptance, vibrantly accompanied by an ensemble of archetypes and eccentrics.

The ballet unfolds against a backdrop of 1950s suburbia, skilfully evoked through Terry Davies’ haunting score, which complements Danny Elfman’s original soundtrack, and Bourne’s meticulous choreography. The narrative, though loosely based on Burton’s film, goes beyond being a faithful translation and instead, it focuses on capturing its spirit within Bourne’s distinctive dance style.

While the production excels in creating a playful yet bittersweet atmosphere, some iconic film moments are omitted, replaced by Bourne’s own narrative ornaments. The choreography, though technically proficient, occasionally veers towards Broadway theatrics, detracting from the ballet’s overall impact.

Photo: Johan Persson

However, Bourne’s adept direction ensures a cohesive and engaging experience thanks to the cast, with Mowen delivering vulnerable yet captivating portrayal of Edward, and Holly Saw’s nuanced evolution as his love interest, Kim.

The production’s set design offered an almost unnoticeable transition from gothic castles and cemeteries to the idyllic American suburbia, highlighting even more the fairy tale ambiance that permeates the performance. While the dance style occasionally feels repetitive in the middle act, the finale captivates with its ethereal snowfall, eliciting a standing ovation from the audience.

Overall, Edward Scissorhands stands as another fine examples of Bourne’s innovative vision and New Adventures’ commitment to excellence in dance theatre. Despite minor shortcomings, the production offers a fascinating reinterpretation of a beloved classic, which will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Tim Burton’s masterpiece.

Expanding on the narrative, Bourne’s adaptation digs deeper into Edward’s journey of self-discovery as it deals with themes of identity and acceptance in a conformist society. The inclusion of additional characters, such as a gay couple with a baby, adds layers of diversity and modern relevance to the story, which also reflects contemporary societal dynamics.

Moreover, the collaboration between Bourne and composer Terry Davies results in a hauntingly beautiful score that heightens the emotional resonance of the narrative. From more light-hearted melodies to poignant themes, the music underscores Edward’s inner turmoil and longing for connection.

Visually, the production’s set design and costumes transport viewers to a bygone era, meticulously recreating the nostalgic charm of 1950s suburbia. The juxtaposition of Edward’s gothic origins with the quaintness of suburban life creates a striking contrast, cleverly used to visually show his outsider status amidst the cookie-cutter conformity of his surroundings.

When looking at the choreographies themselves, Bourne’s dance moves in “Edward Scissorhands” are like a burst of energy! He mixes different styles, from graceful ballet to lively jive, making the performance exciting. Each piece adds depth to the story and lets the cast show off their skills.

Even though Bourne’s version of the story might not stick exactly to Burton’s original, it brings a fresh perspective. Bourne tells the tale in a way that connects with today’s audience while keeping the movie’s magical feel.

In the end, Edward Scissorhands on stage is just amazing. Bourne’s ballet adaption, the beautiful visuals, and the great performances all come together to make it an instant modern hit. It proves once more Bourne as a contemporary genius in the world of dance.

Reviewer: Nazaret Ranea

Reviewed: 14th May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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