Monday, 22 December 2014

'Edward Scissorhands' at Sadler's Wells

This evening we went to see Matthew Bourne's 'Edward Scissorhands' at Sadler's Wells. I like Sadler's Wells and a visit to a Matthew Bourne production is a mandatory pre-Christmas treat. I last saw 'Scissorhands' in 2008 and it was a delight to see it again. I'd forgotten about quite a few of the scenes so it was nice to be reacquainted with it again.

So, the story goes something like this. The boy Edward dies so his father creates another boy with scissors for hands (as you do). His father dies and Edward wanders into the All-American town of Hope Springs, is taken in by a family and falls in love with the daughter but she's hanging out with the bad lads from the wrong side of town. Edward becomes celebrated in the town for his skills with topiary and hairdressing but the bad lads get him drunk at the towns Christmas party and he accidentally cuts someone. Cue the townsfolk metaphorically picking up flaming torches and chasing him to his creators ruined house on the hill where he has a final dance with his sweetheart before being ripped to shreds by the townsfolk. That's a very rough précis but it's sort of all you need to know.

Of course, this is dance we're talking about and that's what's important. There was constant movement, no time to be still on that stage, but there didn't seem to be much dancing. The story unfolds excellently and you don't need to know the story to be able to follow it easily. The was lots of activity on the stage, much running from side to side, and something I like about Bourne's productions is that no-one is left standing at the back waiting for their turn again - even people not in the spotlights are doing things, being seen talking or picking up food from a buffet or something, no second is wasted. Minor characters are given their own chance to grow and shine and no-one in the cast is a second fiddle.

The first half seemed almost exclusively to be about storytelling and characterisation and there are a lot of people to be given a character. It's the second half where we see the true mystery and romanticism of the production, where the heart-strings begin to be tugged and it really comes alive. The Christmas party sequence that leads to Edward's downfall was a trifle long and that was when I was mainly looking to the sides and back of the stage to see what other people were doing.

And then Edward accidentally cuts someone. That's enough to turn the townsfolk into a howling mob, chasing him as he escapes the party. His beloved runs after him, finally realising that she loves him and they have a final moment together before the bad lad appears to start a fight, followed swiftly by the mob and that's the end of Edward. Or is it...?

This is a lovely production and it's been tweaked a bit in the years since I first saw it. The staging was magical, especially the snow, and there was some excellent lighting with great use of shadows. Dominic North was great as Edward and all of them were really good irrespective of how much time they had in the limelight. It was all great fun, very sentimental and perfect for Christmas (especially with the Christmas Tree and the snow). It was much better second time round and I'd recommend it to anyone as a great evening out. And a great start to Christmas!

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