Devised and choreographed by Matthew Bourne, based on the story and film by Tim Burton, music by Terry Davies based on an original score by Danny Elfman
Theatre Royal, Newcastle, and touring
Am I the only person in the country who has not seen the Tim Burton film Edward Scissorhands? Unlike Rachel Lynn Brody (Festival Theatre, Edinburgh), David Chadderton (The Lowry, Salford Quays) and Philip Fisher (Sadler's Wells), all of whom have reviewed the show for the BTG, I came to Matthew Bourne's version without any preconceptions about the piece, apart from my knowledge of and enthusiasm for Matthew Bourne's work. But as to whether or not this is a good thing, who knows?
The production is certainly self-contained and there is no need to know the film in order to enjoy it. The story comes over clearly, as does the sub-text and, as we have come to expect from Matthew Bourne and New Adventures, the production values are very high.
The fairy tale atmosphere is created initially by a very gothic set with very strong overtones of Frankenstein where Edward is created by The Inventor, a set of greys and greens and blues, which is then replaced by small-town middle America in the fifties, with brightly coloured perspective-distorted houses whose inhabitants are six stereotypical nuclear families, with mom and dad, son and daughter, who comprise a mix of all the characters we have come to expect from films of the period. There's the preacher, the politician, the home-maker, the sex-mad bored housewife, the Sandra Dee, the innocent young boy, the businessman, the violent young man - all characters familiar from sources as diverse as Happy Days, Grease, Gidget and even Groundhog Day.
Into this comes Edward, the innocent at large, and we see the impact of the outsider who is so different on the close-knit community.
Bourne is careful to choose exactly the right dance style for each piece he creates, from the classical ballet of Swan Lake and the rather more modern ballet style of Nutcracker! and Highland Fling, to the contemporary dance of Play Without Words, to the Spanish-influenced The Car Man. Here we have a mixture of the stage musical and jive, with a touch of contemporary dance where appropriate. It is here, perhaps, that a weakness becomes apparent. It is a dance style that can be comparatively limiting and I have to confess that I found it a trifle too long in the middle of the piece. At the beginning and as the story builds to its climax it is gripping, but in the central part, which is more exposition than plot development, it tends to become a little repetitive.
The finale, however, is wonderful, as snow falls not just on the stage but on the front of the stalls too, and it brought a number of the audience to their feet.
The performances, it has to be said, are uniformly excellent. Richard Winsor gives us a very vulnerable but charming Edward and Hannah Vassalo as Kim, Edward's love interest, grows from being a typical teenager, taken up with her cheerleading and her slightly dangerous boyfriend Jim (played with a keen edge of menace by James Leece), into a greater maturity as her attraction of Edward develops.
Edward Scissorhands shows Matthew Bourne yet again displaying his talent for innovation, his mastery of dance and the superb integration of choreography and design which is a characteristic of New Adventures.
After finishing the week in Newcastle on 22nd April, the tour continues to High Wycombe, Bradford and Milton Keynes.
Reviewer: Peter Lathan