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Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands returns to Sadler’s Wells
Matthew Bourne’s phenomenally successful Edward Scissorhands is back at Sadler’s Wells where it started out in 2005. Although of course it will never take the place in many people’s hearts of the much-loved 1990 Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie, this highly entertaining dance-drama deserves to be valued on its own considerable merits. And even after touring around the world for three years, the show seems to have lost none of its cutting edge.

Bourne’s superb choreography still seems lively and varied, especially in the big ensemble scenes where the differently characterized families of Hope Springs — albeit stereotypes of 1950s small-town Americana — perform their absurd suburban rituals of domestic order and civic pride. There is a strong sense that these "normal" people are more freakish than Edward himself. The Frankenstein motif of the show’s prologue is not really followed through in the following drama, which is more about an outsider’s efforts to fit in with a close-knit community and win the affections of the girl he loves. There is much more pathos than horror here.

In the title role, Matthew Malthouse gives a bravura performance, with a distinctively jagged dance style, emphasizing both Edward’s otherworldliness and his humanity. Kerry Biggin is a sweet-natured Kim who is drawn to his sensitivity as she eventually turns away from the swaggering machismo of her boyfriend Jim (Adam Galraith), while Nina Goldman’s would-be seductress Joyce uses all her vampish charms to no effect on the innocent Edward.

It’s true that Bourne could have stressed the darkness and ambiguity in the story more, but though Edward Scissorhands does not have the raw passion of Bourne’s classic Swan Lake or the disturbing sexuality of his recent Dorian Gray, this is still masterly storytelling and enchanting theatre for a family audience. And with snow falling from the rafters at the end of the show this may be the closest we will get to a white Christmas in London.

Production Notes ""
Credits as per Lizzie Loveridge’s original review below
Cast: Matthew Malthouse, Etta Murfitt, Ross Carpenter, Kerry Biggin, Gavin Eden, Nina Goldman, Steve Kirkham, Caroline Crawley, Aaron Francis, Lauriane Delteil, Chris Neumann, Noi Tolmer, Adam Galbraith, Rachel Lancaster, Jack Jones, Shelby Williams, Daniel Wright, Madelaine Brennan, Timothy Hodges, Cindy Corinne Ciunfrini, Gavin Persand, Vicky Evans, Danny Reubens, Dena Lague, Ross Fountain
Box Office: 0844 412 4300
Booking to 18th January 2008
Reviewed by Neil Dowden on 11th December 2008 at Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1 (Tube: Angel Islington)

The Original Review by Lizzie Loveridge

It has been a dream of mine to present Edward Scissorhands ever since I first saw Tim Burton's wonderful film in 1990. The show has been in development, on and off, for over seven years . . . I only hope that we have done theatrical justice to the spirit of their unique cinematic vision.
---- Matthew Bourne
Edward Scissorhands
Sam Archer as Edward and Kerry Biggins as Kim
(Photo: Bill Cooper)
It is an inspired choice to combine the innovative choreographic talents of Matthew Bourne with Tim Burton's haunting 1990 film, which starred Johnny Depp as the boy Edward Scissorhands. The world premiere of the dance version of Edward Scissorhands is at London's Sadler's Wells to February. I was blown away by the first Matthew Bourne production of The Nutcracker and have made a point of seeing his every production since but Edward Scissorhands seems to me perfectly made for Bourne's special dance treatment. It is a tale of love and prejudice, of generosity and small mindedness and of otherness. But what makes it exceptional is the wit, the humour which Bourne conveys with his very expressive dancers. It is almost as if you are unaware that they are just dancers because you are so caught up with the sublime fully rounded characterisations.

I think that Bourne has altered the storyline of the film slightly. After a new prologue, Bourne's version has a group of mature trick or treaters disturbing the inventor. Edward (Sam Archer) finds the Bloggs family while Kim (Hannah Vassallo) the daughter is away on a school trip. Edward is given a home by Mrs Bloggs (Etta Murfitt) and stays in Kim's bedroom where he half falls in love with her photograph. Although many in the neighbourhood are suspicious of him, Edward uses his scissorhands to cut amazing shapes out of box hedges and bushes and eventually turns his skills to haircutting. At a Christmas Ball he attends, Edward is deliberately plied with alcohol. In the melee he cuts the face of a friend and is pursued by everyone to the graveyard where he and. Kim hide and embrace.

The dance of the Halloween revellers is as exciting as a scene out of West Side Story. We switch to a town in middle America where the families emerge from their fresh painted bungalows, each a symmetrical mother and father and two children. The Boggs and the Monroes are very similar to each other except that Joyce Monroe (Michela Meazza) is a highly sexed siren with a husband (Steve Kirkham) who is more interested in jogging than indoor sports. The Upton family are electioneering, all-American flag waving patriots led by Mayor Franklyn Upton III (Gareth Charlton) and the sinister Evercreeches are the vicar, Rev Judas Evercreech (Matthew Malthouse), his judgmental wife Esmeralda (Rachel Morrow) and his Goth children of whom the daughter Marilyn-Ann (Shelby Williams) steals the family show. Then there are the Grubb family, poorer and not quite fitting in with this aspiring neighbourhood.

The inspirational choreography thrills and amazes. At one point the religious Everceech wife forms a crucifix, the Monroe and Blogg husbands run off on competitive jogs, the children race around as children tend to. Towards the end of the first act, there is a formal ballet in which all the participants are dark green, carved shapes of privet hedges covering their faces and bodies in an elegant celebration of a formal garden. I liked too the ice skating scene, a Matthew Bourne speciality. The Christmas Ball is a grand occasion with everyone displaying their finery and dancing in pairs. Another witty scene is when Edward becomes Edwardo the moustachioed rakish white jacketed barber who cuts hair into innovative shapes.

The film music and the tunes are soaring or jaunty, deeply romantic and poignant. Danny Elfman's original film music is there but composer and arranger Terry Davies has added more.

Les Brotherston has gone to town with his sets and costumes. The graveyard has tons of Gothic detail but the suburban American houses are pastel colours and delightful. The topiary shapes are beautiful, a elephants head with raised trunk, a dinosaur, the head of an eagle. At the barbecue, the families sizzle behind white picket fences and they wear the fruitiest of fabrics, bunches of cherries and apples and strawberries. I cannot adequately describe the visual impact of this production. You will have to see it for yourself. At the end during the curtain call, there is snow, real snow, not the paper kind but wet snow which falls onto the cast and some of the audience, magical!

Devised, directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne
New music and arrangements by Terry Davies
Based on themes from the original motion picture score by Danny Elfman
Original story and motion picture directed by Tim Burton
Original screenplay by Caroline Thompson

Starring: Sam Archer, Hannah Vassallo
With: Etta Murfitt, Scott Ambler, Gavin Eden, Michela Meazza, Steve Kirkham, Sophia Hurdley, Shaun Walters, Heather Habens, Gareth Charlton, Gemma Payne, James Leece, Rachel Morrow, Matthew Malthouse, Shelby Williams, Ross Carpenter, Madelaine Brennan, Jake Samuels, Rachel Lancaster, Philip Willingham, Mami Tomotani, Adam Galbraith, Dena Lague, Drew McOnie
Design: Lez Brotherston
Conductor: Benjamin Pope
Lighting: Howard Harrison
Sound: Paul Groothuis
Running time: Two hours with one interval
Box Office: 0870 737 7737
Booking to 5th February at Sadler's Wells then The Lowry Salford.
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 1st December 2005 at Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1 (Tube: Angel, Islington)

* Includes Musical Themes from the Motion Picture Edward Scissorhands by Danny Elfman
Dance Numbers
Act One
  • Prologue*
  • Creating A Boy
  • Halloween
  • Trick or Treat
  • The Suburban Ballet*
  • A Portrait of Kim*
  • Gossip
  • The Boggs' Barbecue
  • Topiary Garden*
Act Two
  • Edwardo the Barber*
  • Helping Joyce
  • Christmas in Hope Springs
  • Ice Dance*
  • New Best Friend
  • The Annual Christmas Ball
  • Farewell*
  • Epilogue
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