Matthew Bourne‘s balletic adaptation of Tim Burton’s iconic film, Edward Scissorhands, is a triumph of storytelling through movement, capturing the essence of the beloved tale with poignant and visually arresting choreography. Having Premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 2005, this 2023 production proves why Bourne is a master of narrative dance, seamlessly translating the magic of Burton’s cinematic world into an entrancing contemporary ballet.
The brilliance of Bourne’s choreography lies in its ability to convey the depth and complexity of the characters without the need for words. Liam Mower, who found theatrical fame when he originated the role of Billy Elliott in the musical of the same name and went on to win the Olivier award for his performance, embodies the titular role of Edward, and executes a dance vocabulary that is both technically precise and emotionally resonant. The scissor-like movements in his physicality are not merely a gimmick taken from Johnny Depp’s original portrayal of the character in the movie, but an expression of Edward’s isolation and the delicate beauty hidden behind his seemingly sharp exterior.
The ensemble cast, whether portraying the quirky inhabitants of Edward’s neighbourhood or Edward himself, excel in bringing each character to life with nuance and flair. Bourne’s adaptation goes beyond a mere re-enactment of the film, it adds layers of depth to the original characters and explores themes of acceptance, identity, and the power of compassion. The ballet successfully captures the emotional core of the original story, creating moments of heart-warming tenderness as well as scenes of heart-breaking isolation. The show’s final scene will bring many to tears.
Lez Brotherston‘s set and costume design transport the audience into a utopian-style suburban landscape that mirrors the film’s distinctive aesthetic. The pastel-coloured houses and meticulously crafted details evoke the eerie charm of Burton’s world. Howard Harrison‘s lighting design is a key player in the emotional ebb and flow of the production. The play of light and shadow takes the audience from the darkness of isolation to the warmth of acceptance.
Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands continues to blur the boundaries of traditional and contemporary dance almost 20 years after its creation, delivering a visually-stunning and emotionally-resonant experience. From the exquisite choreography to the enchanting set design, every element of the production contributes to its success. Bourne’s ability to infuse dance with narrative depth is on full display, making this adaptation a must-see for both ballet aficionados and fans of the classic Tim Burton film.
Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands will carve a place in your heart – ★★★★★ 5 stars