Culture Editor Ilina Jha and Culture Writer Megan Hughes review the Edward Scissorhands ballet, praising the dancing talent and musical production
On Tuesday 6th February, we were lucky enough to attend the opening night of Edward Scissorhands, which is playing at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 10th February. Read on to hear our thoughts on this magical ballet!
Perspective One: Megan Hughes
Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands is a ballet adaptation of the 1990 Tim Burton film of the same name. Given the nature of Scissorhands as a Frankenstein’s Monster-esque creation who moves unsurely, as though his body is connected by little more than hope and thread, the film makes an interesting challenge for renowned choreographer Bourne to translate into the medium of dance. However, it is a challenge that I believe he achieves magnificently, particularly in the strength of his casting for Edward (Liam Mower). Mower’s talent is evident in the way in which he manages to maintain the stilted movements of the character whilst still demonstrating the grace and fluidity of a skilled dancer.
With composer Terry Davies, Bourne uses many of the musical motifs heard in Danny Elfman’s original cinematic soundtrack and reinvents them to create the rhythmic canvas of his dances. This is no mean feat given the haunting nature of the original music which encapsulated the tone of this ill-fated fairytale, filled with equal parts beauty and sorrow.
I found the set design particularly noteworthy. The use of moving transparent gauze screens both behind and in front of the dancers allowed for the creation of an immersive environment for those on stage, with flowers and snow dancing simultaneously alongside the human cast to create a magical tableau that utilised every inch of available floor space. Layering of the essential candy coloured houses of Hope Springs alongside the gothic vignettes of Edward’s childhood home humanised the props and provided the physical stage with a surprising level of depth.
Given the topical allusions of how fear of the unknown and ‘other’ can all too easily lead to bigotry and marginalisation, I left the ballet with a heavy heart; but this only informed me that Bourne has succeeded in creating a ballet that can resonate with audiences nearly three decades after the original story was released into the world. Edward Scissorhands is a magical experience that skilfully utilises the mobile nature of ballet to tell a story that will draw you in and leave you rudely surprised when the curtains fall and return you to the (muted in comparison) dullness of reality.
Perspective Two: Ilina Jha
I imagine that many who go to see the ballet of Edward Scissorhands will already be familiar with the classic film. I, however, have never seen it, and so had no idea what to expect from this ballet other than the titular character. Given that I left the theatre in floods of tears, it’s safe to say that the show had a huge impact on me.
The choreography takes a more modern approach to ballet, weaving contemporary movements in with traditional balletic dance. The cast are highly talented dancers and seemed to flow through all the dances with ease, portraying an effortlessness that takes a lot of time and hard work to perfect. But a ballet is never just dancing: there is always a story to be told through dance, and this one was executed brilliantly. It is one thing to dance well; it is quite another to act through dance and to tell a story without words, and this cast of dancers were very much up to the task.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the beautiful dances between the show’s romantic leads, Edward Scissorhands and Kim Boggs (Ashley Shaw). How does one dance with a man who has scissors for hands, you may ask? This ballet shows that this is not at all easy – the ‘Ice Dance’ features very delicate and careful choreography, as the characters are still trying to learn how to safely and lovingly interact with one another. It is in their final dance where it all comes together; inventive choreography enables these two to achieve some gorgeous lifts and beautiful dancing. Plus, the chemistry between them is without fault, and they work magic together on stage.
Edward Scissorhands is a fantastic piece of art that teaches as well as entertains. You will be awed at the quality of the production and find yourself laughing at points (yes, laughing in a ballet!). But this intensely emotional story will also make you think more deeply about humanity, society, and injustice. It’s a story that left me sobbing; Edward Scissorhands will not leave you untouched.
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