DanceNorth East & YorkshireReview

Edward Scissorhands – Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Reviewer: Ruth Jepson

Devisor, Director and Choreographer: Matthew Bourne

Music and Arrangements: Danny Elfman and Terry Davies

Writer: Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson

Adaptor: Caroline Thompson

There are few films that one could look at and think ‘Ah yes, this would make a wonderful ballet’. In the case of Edward Scissorhands, it’s tempting to wonder why it hasn’t always been one. The whole film looks like it is playing out on a stage, with the bright colours, outlandish costumes and magical elements signature to all Tim Burton projects, especially those with music composed by Danny Elfman. Matthew Bourne first came to this conclusion for a brief tour in 2005 and, aside from a quick revival in 2014, UK audiences have been hungry for another one ever since.

Featuring new music and arrangements from Terry Davis, with a story adapted by original screenplay co-writer Caroline Thompson, and choreographed by Bourne himself, Edward Scissorhands tells the tale of an unfinished boy (danced in this reviewed performance by Stephen Murray) created by a grieving scientist (Luke Murphy). Edward is sadly left alone after the latter’s death, until he eventually heads out into a pop art landscape of 1950s Americana thanks to the unwavering encouragement of housewife Peg Boggs (Sophia Hurdley). When he is introduced to the neighbourhood, Edward’s eponymous Scissorhands inspire both fear and awe, hiding the sweetness and innocence underneath. When Edward falls for Peg’s beautiful daughter Kim (Ashley Shaw), is the story destined to end as a happily ever after fairytale, or a true-blue horror story?

It’s impossible not to be drawn in to the world of Edward Scissorhands. Every person on that stage has an individual character and is dancing it with the zeal of a prima ballerina, no matter how small their role. The physical movement skills, even beyond the dance ability, are mesmerizing, from Murray’s jerkily perambulating Edward, to the evangelical marching of the Evereech family, and the sensual cheekiness of Joyce Monroe (Nicole Kabera, whose seduction scene is possibly the best part of the show). And it’s funny! Who knew contemporary dance could induce snort laughter in the audience? While some of the plot changes are a little strange – the story of Edward’s creation is a bit unclear as to exactly why the inventor chose to give him scissors for hands, and the less said about the PowerPoint presentation prequel the better, even if the rest of Duncan McLean’s 3D projection is magical – there are other changes which would definitely fit right into the source material. Just wait until you see the topiary daydream dance…

Bourne’s adaptations are often wonderful introductions to contemporary ballet and modern dance for inexperienced audience members, and Edward Scissorhands is no exception. It is a well known and easy to follow story, with stunningly gorgeous sets and costumes designed by Lez Brotherston, a cavalcade of colour and kitsch fun enhanced by Howard Harrison’s fantastic lighting. It helps that the choreography often swings closer to physical theatre, allowing for scenes chock full of both comedy and pathos without a word needing to be uttered, so any potential stuffiness associated with the word ‘ballet’ is mitigated (although it would be nice to see more of Edward actually dancing in his solo explorations, satisfying as Murray’s physicality is to watch). For those well versed in the artform, the technical expertise of the dancers cannot be faulted. The duets between Murray and Shaw, especially the final dance, are a sumptuous delight, and the care and love the characters express is genuinely tear inducing.

It may have been a long wait for another revival, but it is worth it. And considering how rife judging people for just wanting to be their true selves is at the moment, it has come at exactly the right time.

Runs until 13th April 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Gothically kitsch

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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One Comment

  1. Get to the Alhambra to see Edward scissorhands. It is absolutely fantastic. Words fail me about he staging which is just incredible. A mix of modern dance, ballet and musical theatre. .Iam going back for a second view.

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