Edward Scissorhands at Bristol Hippodrome

IN the days when youngsters could ride their bicycles around in comparative safety because there were so few cars on the road, many a show off-took their hands off the handlebars with the cry “Look at me. No hands”. When Liam Mower’s Edward Scissorhands, deprived of the use of his hands because they had been replaced by prosthetic scissors, joined Ashley Shaw’s delightful Kim in a final pas-de-deux, he too could have yelled out “ Look. No hands”. And added “Who needs them?” Because the romance and passion they drew out of Matthew Bourne’s beautiful choreography was a dance moment to delight in.

In the scene leading up to this bitter-sweet ending, the whole company had been assembled for a town Christmas party, and, in the course of a few minutes among some wonderful changing patterns, joy, jealousy, anger, love and prejudice had all been conveyed, through brilliantly created choreography that used every note of music to good effect. There was nothing predictable about the pattens being woven, and, danced by a finely-balanced ensemble, looked as natural as a group of young people out for a good night at their local Palais de Dance.

This is the third time that Matthew Bourne has sent out on tour his Edward Scissorhands, the gothic fairytale romance that started life in 1990 as a successful film. The first dance version arrived in 2009, and next visited in 2014. The current tour, with the same high quality presentation, looks as fresh as the day it first burst into life.

Eye wateringly imaginative is the only way to describe Matthew Bourne’s choreography, as much mime as dance, and Lez Brotherston’ sets and costumes, backed by ideal lighting and sound designs from Howard Harrison and Paul Groothuis, making the presentation of this production as easy on the eye and ear as the players mime and dance.

Just as Liam Mower required no hands, he worked his scissor replacements with consummate ease, to help create his character, and brought romance and pathos to his dance movement, so the ensemble needed no words to paint a picture of this small town community with its narrow view of life and fickle response to someone out of the ordinary run of people.

Nicole Kabera’s manipulative seductress housewife, James Lovell as her dull comb-over-hair -style husband, Kerry Biggin, Glenn Graham and Xavier Andriambolanoro Satiya, the parents and brother of Kim, whose welcoming arms and support soon prove to have feet of clay as far as Edward is concerned, are just a few of the wonderful array of characters brought vividly to life.

How opera must wish that they had a Matthew Bourne presenting their wares to a modern audience. So far, no one involved in opera production has found a Bourne formula that introduces audiences to opera as he, via a mixture of popular dance and mime, introduces new audiences to modern and classic ballet.

The very full and appreciative audience that attended this performance, and will fill the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 9th March, was a much wider one than you would find at a production by the Royal or National Ballet companies.

The quality of the mime and dance in this production would have pleased even the most ardent and critical of the followers of those top class ballet companies. As it sets out on a nationwide tour, you can catch up with this production at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre between 13th and 16th March.



Photographs by Johan Persson

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