J and I went to Sadlers Wells on Saturday night to see the dance production of this classic Gothic fairytale from Tim Burton, brilliantly reinterpreted by my favourite choreographer Matthew Bourne from New Adventures. We've seen almost all of his stuff, the male Swan Lake, Car-Man, Highland Fling, Play Without Words, and Nutcracker! This was as good as anything he has done and I highly recommend it.
The score is sumptuous and the set design is astonishingly realised, the story flashes along as sharply and as breathtakingly as Edward's scissor hands. The dancers all act with sly humour and a zest that makes the wierdly dreamy suburban world a place full of vivid characters that you think you can hear their accents . No speaking of course, it's a ballet. But the dancers inhabit their roles so completely that you are carried along by a fluidity of sometimes-grotesque movement that captures their characters' personality beyond simply dancing.
It is extremely witty as well, the audience frequently laughed out loud and by the end, they cheered and stamped with tears in their eyes as the pathos of poor outsider Edward, so gentle, so frightened, so horribly disfigured, so unwittingly, unwillingly dangerous - is realised in a drifting cloud of sparkling real snowflakes.
At the end of the night, Edward is left alone, there is no place for his extraordinary self amongst the other people. His flinching, terrified reaction to the first kindness he had ever been shown since his creator died - a gentle touch of a mother to his bleeding face, accidentally slashed by his own terrible knife-hands, and the moment where he and she both frantically tried to calm each other's fears and communicate with each other was the poignant counterpoint to the verve and gusto of the production.
Because of course, this is about despair as well as comedy, about adolescent alientation and the heartbreaking status of the outsider, the gifted, the different. It is on until February 5th. Go see, if you can. Or rent the movie. Soul-food this good is a treat to warm the heart in winter.