Monday, December 29, 2014

The 7 Shows of Xmas 4: EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

It was going to be a tough ask for any production to follow the dazzling HERE LIES LOVE but the next day found Owen and I at Sadler's Wells for the revival of Matthew Bourne's dance version of Tim Burton's EDWARD SCISSORHANDS.

I saw the show in 2008 and in my blog I was less than enthusiastic.  Although Bourne has slightly revised it I still feel it's a show that is as thin as one of Edward's blades, as light as one of his ice shavings.  By the way, how wonderful to be able to access exactly what I thought of a show seen six years ago.  Thank you Mr. Blogger.

Actually re-reading that blog makes me realise that not a lot has changed in 6 years sadly.  The piece has not been re-imagined to any great extent - there is now a duet between Edward and Kim in the first act which strengthens their relationship but again not good enough for them to be a couple that you root for: Edward yes, but Kim's actions are too unreadable as imagined for this.

The show is also still saddled with one too many ensemble numbers.  Usually this would not be a bad thing for a Bourne show but here is a town that needs some serious down-sizing.  Their are six families portrayed - each comprising four members - and Bourne feels the need in each ensemble number to reintroduce them all with their own idiosyncrasies.  With two ensemble numbers in each act this just feels like padding, as if Bourne didn't feel he could do enough with the central couple which bizarrely is just what the show lacks.

So we get the Evercreech family being religious, the Covitt family's husband sneaking off to have sex with Mrs Monroe, the Grubb family being slovernly and the Upton husband and wife running for political office again and again.  The irritating thing is that nothing actually builds from this, like some Burtonesque nightmare they just repeat the same actions again and again.  I am not sure if Bourne is attempting social satire, I suspect not.

What makes this all the more frustrating is after treading water for almost an hour and a half, in the last 20 minutes of the show Bourne suddenly ramps up the action and the emotional involvment to arrive at a genuinely sad and emotional ending.

Edward being chased back to his inventor's deserted home, the climax of the action, the significance of the old woman we saw at the start of the show and the thing that haunts her; all of these finally galvanize the show and give it a resonance that have been lacking up until then.  I hate to criticize Bourne's work as it has given me such great pleasure but it has to be said.

Of course what helps immesurably are some of the performances.  It was great to see Dominic North again as Edward, he has made the part his own and makes an indelible impression of an innocent lost in a world that he so wishes to be part of.  He genuinely makes Edward a tragic figure through his thrilling performance.

Katy Lowenhoff was a charming Kim but as I have said, is hampered by Bourne's wishy-washy approach to the character while Bourne old-timers Etta Murfitt and Saranne Curtin were very good as the kindly Mrs. Boggs and the man-hungry Joyce Munroe.  Tom Clark was also good as Edward's nemesis Bill.

The ensemble cast gave the usual high standard that is expected of a Bourne production, Lez Brotherston's stage designs were a delight as always as was Howard Harrison's evocative lighting.

If only Matthew Bourne could have another look at the show and, with Christmas in mind, discard the padding surrounding the show and concentrate more on the actual heart of it.

No comments: