New Adventures, Martin McCallum and Marc Platt present
Devised, Directed and Choreographed by Matthew Bourne
New Music and Arrangements by Terry Davies
Based on Themes from the Original Motion Picture Score Composed by Danny Elfman
Based on the Original Motion Picture by Arrangement with 20th Century Fox
Original Story and Motion Picture Directed by Tim Burton
Original Screenplay, Story and Co-Adaptation by Caroline Thompson
Designed by Lez Brotherston
Lighting Designed By Howard Harrison
Sound Designed by Paul Groothuis
Conductor Ben Pope
2 December 2008 – 12 January 2009
A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!
Matthew Bourne’s hugely enjoyable ballet with its often cheerily spottable references to Tim Burton’s popular film, Edward Scissorhands (1990), makes a refreshing change of pace from the usual holiday entertainment. As is always the case with Bourne’s projects, his approach to both his choreography and directing is at once, tender, but tawdry, happy and sad, individualistic, yet reflective of herd mentality, childish and far too sophisticated for its own good. But that’s because Bourne always takes, as his inspiration, those ever changing, re-arranging creatures – people.
This accessible production, which made its Salder’s Wells premiere three years ago, has played around the world to many a sold-out house in its travels, quickly marking it as one of Bourne’s favourite works. This is the realisation of one of Bourne’s primary goals in relation to dance, to enable it to ‘reach out to new, large audiences’. Sadler’s Wells is Bourne’s company, New Adventures, London home and at least two of Bourne’s productions are featured there each year.
For those of you who don’t know the tale of Edward Scissorhands, I will not reveal too much of the story here, especially as the overriding number of Tim Burton fans out there might get quite annoyed if I did. Suffice it to say that this story of a young boy struck by lightening, a grieving father who sews a substitute son together, (albeit with scissors for hands), the father’s early demise and his creation’s search for love and acceptance are reflective of many a fairytale and story from many an era, among them, Frankenstein, Pinocchio, Strumpelpeter (Shock Headed Peter) Peter Pan and many, many others. However, in the case of Edward Scissorhands it is the way that various elements of each of these stories are combined to form the tale that make it so endearing.
In relation to this memorable evening of dance, it is difficult to know where to begin! But of course, my starting point should be its exhilarating choreography, so observant of the foibles of human nature, conceived Matthew Bourne, and with the fine dancing of the company, who under Bourne’s knowing direction appear to be making spontaneous choices about which steps to take next. After that, it would only be right to site the marvellous scenery, worthy of the surburban American landscape, circa late 1950’s, early ‘60’s, of a Disney cartoon, designed by Lez Brotherston. Then there is the atmospheric lighting of Howard Harrison, which makes lightening strike, not once, but twice, and also enhances specific moments of the storyline via its alternately shimmering or subdued emphasis on sometimes small, but nonetheless significant moments in Bourne’s upbeat, offbeat narrative choreography. As if that wasn’t enough, there are the new music and musical arrangements, (after Danny Elfman’s original film score) by Terry Davies. All of the above make for an effervescent cocktail, designed to be savoured, one colourful drop at a time!
On the evening we attended this sparkling show, Matthew Malthouse was absolutely delightful as Edward Scissorhands, wearing all of his ‘I’m an Alien’ innocence and teenage love sickness for Kim Boggs, (Kerry Biggen) on his sown-together sleeves. As a dancer, Malthouse had his work cut out for him, as he waved his shining scissorred hands in appropriate, or, inappropriate excitement, became the object of a young girl’s fanciful dreams and staggered through an alcoholic haze at a Christmas dance. From the cheers greeting Malthouse’s in-character curtain calls, and the gaggle of enthusiastic adolescent girls buzzing around him in the lobby after the show, it was obvious that his Edward Scissorhands had seemingly, inadvertently, won over most of the audience, old and young.
Bourne’s usual knack for observing and incorporating human quirks into his choregraphy is in evidence here through, in one instance, geeky jock wannabes vying for the attention of suburbia’s self professed siren while they hilariously strut their stuff. Other choice Bournesque moments of observation shine through Kerry Biggens’ appropriately erratic teen emoting and body language as she finds herself unexpectedly torn between the evocative oddness of Edward and the testosterone fuelled machismo of her emotionally unstable, steady boyfriend, Jim, performed with sweaty bravado by Adam Gailbraith. Bourne is also a master of encapsulating group mentalities within the context of his choreography, as in a scene in which he shows the similarities between the everyday routines of seemingly similar suburbanites, which are, naturally blown out of the water by some idiocyrasy or another, as soon as they’ve been given enough time to seep into our consciousness! Ever one to play with stereotypes, Bourne allows all the quirky characters who peopled Tim Burton’s film ample room to establish themselves within the show’s story line, after which they simply appear to be doing their own things, under his seamless directing. Nina Goldman as the local femme fatale is a good example of this, as her writhing, come hither, glamorous housewife ways are smoothly blended into the context of her dancing scenes, particularly those in which she attempts to seduce Edward which are not only notable for their high humour, but also, for their skill and fluidity!
Lez Brotherston’s shifting sets appear to be a combination of cinematic Technicolor splendour and dream fantasy all rolled into one, with their candy tinted buildings and similarly hued, pink, shrine like cheerleader’s bedroom. Conversely, its haunted looking house on the hill looming before a full moon over the grave of the ‘real’ Edward is the stuff of childish nightmares, though it has an oddly benign edge, with it’s cartoon scripted cross, which should let any youngsters in the audience know it’s not really ‘for real.’ In case there’s any doubt, the story begins with some fairytale phrases projected across the stage, which, in conjunction with music drawn from Danny Elfman’s fantasy film score should alleviate any momentary childish qualms, enabling a memorable night out suitable for the entire family, from grandparents on down.
If you’re looking for an enchanting event to attend this holiday season, during which you can just sit back and enjoy yourself, in the company of others who will, similarly be suspending their disbelief, then treat yourself to Matthew Bourne’s splendid Edward Scissorhands and let the magic begin!
Sadler's Wells Theatre
London EC1R 4TN
Box Office 0844 412 4300
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