02 May

Edward Scissorhands: OK, but…

I promised a review of Edward Scissorhands, directed by Matthew Bourne, and currently running at the 5th Avenue Theater. I don’t have time to write a real review, but here’s a quick note about it.

If you go to see it, be aware that it’s basically a modern ballet. There is no dialogue; there are no lyrics. It’s all music and dance. (Here’s a montage of scenes from the production on YouTube, to give you a taste of the show.) This is not necessarily a bad thing. The dancing is quite marvelous. The sets are very cool. The music is pretty good, though I admit my ears perked up whenever I actually heard some of Danny Elfman’s motifs from the film (much of the music in the stage version is original, but the Elfman motifs pop up here and there — and note that they are featured in the montage I linked to above). I thought the pacing was a bit poor in places, causing the show to drag.

My main problem with it, though, is that it did not seem to have the emotional core that the movie has. I’m a big fan of the film, and it chokes me up every time I see it. But there was no time when the stage version elicited that kind of emotional response. One reason was that this adaptation seems to miss some of the basic elements of Edward’s personality. For example, there’s a moment when Edward flips off the bad guy with his scissor finger. Sure, that shows his anger, but it seems terribly out of character; Edward is an innocent.

The circumstances of Edward’s “father’s” death are changed, which seems an odd artistic choice (and rather less tragic than the version in the film), and there’s a strange and useless segment at the beginning in which Edward’s “father” is apparently inspired by a real live child, playing with scissors, who dies.

Certainly some of my disappointment with this version could be due to my familiarity with and affection for the original film. Perhaps I would have felt differently about the production if I had not seen the film, and certainly the audience seemed to enjoy it.

The one moment when the play really did get me was, strangely enough, at the curtain call, when Edward comes out, and there’s a nice surprise.

Having said all of this, I should add that it was an enjoyable evening, and it wasn’t a bad show at all; it just seemed as if it could be better. If you can get discounted tickets, that’s probably the best option.

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