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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York

By Bill Stevenson

  Sam Archer

Matthew Bourne, the popular British choreographer behind Swan Lake (which famously featured male swans) and Mary Poppins, is back. This time he has adapted Tim Burton's sweet 1990 movie Edward Scissorhands, which starred Johnny Depp. The cinematic fairy tale suits deviser-director-choreographer Bourne's over-the-top style, but his dance-theater version is cute rather than cutting-edge.

Like the film, Bourne's adaptation features striking visuals (courtesy of set and costume designer Lez Brotherston) and evocative music (based on Danny Elfman's movie themes, with new music by Terry Davies). Bourne tells the story efficiently and clearly, without dialogue. Edward (Sam Archer) is the creation of an inventor whose child was electrocuted while holding scissors. Edward, who has sharp blades instead of fingers, is orphaned when the inventor dies. Edward frightens the townsfolk, but Peg Boggs (Madelaine Brennan) takes him in. Soon Edward finds his niche giving people-and topiary-stylish trims. He also falls for Mrs. Boggs' daughter, Kim (Kerry Biggin).

As in Bourne's Pllay Without Words, the choreography is character-driven and the show largely consists of "movement," not dance. There are a few lively ensembles scenes and a funny bit involving a redhead (Michela Meazza) who seduces Edward. Other sections-including the topiary coming to life-disappoint. The problem is that most of the dancing just isn't very exciting. Certainly nothing compares with the dynamic Swan Lake. And subtlety isn't Bourne's strong suit. I could have done without the limp-wristed TV announcer, and the religious family is similarly cartoonish. Perhaps Bourne thinks he has to dumb-down his work to appeal to the masses. (Edward Scissorhands is in the middle of a North American tour and continues at BAM through March 31.)

While the dancing seldom lives up to expectations, there's plenty of eye-popping imagery. When Edward and Kim dance, a lovely snow effect adds a romantic touch. Even more enchanting is the snow that falls at the end, briefly turning the opera house into a giant snow globe. It's a magical moment. On the whole, however, Bourne's Edward Scissorhands is rarely as magical as Tim Burton's film.


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