Monday, 9 January 2006

Edward Scissorhands

Well, we finally got to see Matthew Bourne's new ballet/dance piece Edward Scissorhands on Sunday, at a matinee at Sadler's Wells Theatre. It is a handsome piece, in attractive imaginative sets by Les Brotherston and is a remarkably effective translation of the film into a stage work. Moving film onto the stage is not always an easy task and Bourne managed it beautifully. The only moments when you really needed to have seen the film was the closing, where the an old lady is being showered with snow and revels in it; Bourne gives you clues but I am not convinced that people who have not seen then film will make the connection with the showers of snow from Edward's ice sculptures.


As a dance work, I was a little less convinced. It does not help that the score still sounds very much like a film score rather than a dance drama; the music is, after all, based on the music for the film adapted and arranged by Terry Davis. It is very effective, as far as it goes, but does not provide the depth and coherence really necessary for a proper dance drama.


Bourne creates some wonderful 1950's style moves for the people who live on the 1950's suburban estate where Edward's adopted homes. These were some of the best parts of the show, unfortunately I think that Bourne became a little to in love with the 50's background at the expense of Edward himself. There were quite a few times when I longed for the exciting ensemble to stop and for Bourne to concentrate on Edward himself. An extra solo, or two, for Edward would help to deepen his character and help him come more into the foreground. As it is, the character had to rely on the pathos generated by his general demeanour and acting; though this was effective I wanted more.


A further problem came to a head in the final pas de deux, though it had been signalled at various points in the show; because of the scissors on his hands, Edward was unable to lift his partner properly. Bourne had removed this obstacle in their Act 1 pas de deux, by making it a dream sequence so Edward appeared sans scissors on his hands. But for the end of the show, Edward was hampered and though Bourne came up with some effective solutions the final result was clumsier, more lumpenm less cathartic and uplifting than I would have liked.


It reminded me of the problems that David Bintley had in his choreography for Edward II and Piers Gaveston in his Edward II; their pas de deux lacked any really lifts and consequently lacked uplift. To see how such things could be done, go and see Les Ballets Trockadero de Montecarlo, though technically a spoof of ballet moeurs they come up with some remarkably effective solutions to to men dancing a pas de deux together. Perhaps Bourne should have asked them how to arrange a dance for a man with scissors instead of hands?

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