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Matthew Bournes eagerly awaited ballet version of Tim
Burtons 1990 movie proves to be as poignant and enchanting as the celluloid version.
As one might expect from Bourne this is a strongly structured story ballet with witty
individual character dancing, performed by the uniformly excellent ensemble of his New
Adventures in Motion Pictures company. It is also a highly successful amalgam of fairy
tale and social comment (as was the original film) and similarly subversive. But then
subversion has been the dominant factor in Bourne's opus from his first hit Swan
Lake with male swans. Edward Scissorhands' mixture of nursery story and incisive satire of the 1950s clean
cut American dream is mirrored in Terry Davies masterful arrangement of Danny
Elfmans lyrical and haunting original film score and pastiche of 50s dance
music as well as Lez Brothertons striking set and costume designs, giving the
production a uniformity of expression.
Edward, a gentle young monster with large scissors for hands has been
created by an old inventor, who dies accidentally when his creepy mansion is invaded one
Halloween by teenagers from the nearby neighborhood. Lost and confused, Edward wanders
into the residential area and is eventually taken in by the Boggs family. He gradually
becomes accepted by the wealthy middle class community, having a facility for creating
wonderful topiaries out of residents hedges and eventually becoming the neighborhood
hairdresser and falling for their daughter Kim.
The central theme of the uneasy relationship between the outsider and
the community is well presented by Bourne as are the concomitant ones of stifling social
convention and innocence corrupted by social mores. Satirizing social mores and hypocrisy
is Bournes metier as in his other movie adaptation (of Joseph Loseys The
Servant) the award winning Play Without Words where he satirizes
swinging sixties London and its gay subculture. Similarly, detailed set pieces such as the
Boggs barbecue, the Christmas dance and Edwards hairdressing salon and types
such as the neighborhood vamp (an outrageous Michaela Meazza) and the religious Evercreech
family (a timely send-up of religious fundamentalism) provide the most entertaining
moments of this production and reveal Bournes choreography at its most successful
and sure. By contrast, he creates a breathtaking dream sequence for Edward and Kim (with a
dancing topiary), reminiscent in its lyricism of Agnes de Milles dream ballet for Oklahoma.
The growing attraction between Kim and Edward is deftly handled in a
charming manner and they are subtly portrayed by Kerry Biggin and Sam Archer, but their
more intimate moments need further development as does Kims dilemma of choice
between Edward and her existing boy friend. Furthermore, though the interaction between
Edward and the community is perfectly etched, the rawness of
his loneliness and frustration need more exploration and, as a result, the closing
moments, though visually stunning, are less moving than they might be. In the hugely
entertaining and acutely observed ensemble, the intimate is subsumed.
However, overall, Matthew Bourne provides an enchanting entertainment
and a refreshing evocation of innocence.
- Neil Ludwick