Life & Culture

Dance Review: Edward Scissorhands and Nutcracker

Two shows to lighten up the winter months



Edward Scissorhands

Sadler’s Wells Theatre until 20th January



 London Coliseum until 7th January


The story of Edward Scissorhands is a sad one: a man-made boy – a cross between Pinocchio and Frankenstein’s monster – is left with scissors for hands when his creator dies before he can finish his work. Regarded as a freak and unable to connect with those around him, he eventually loses his one love. Brought to life first in Tim Burton’s 1990 popular film, it is now a lively dance production – currently at Sadler’s Wells – by Matthew Bourne and his New Adventures company.

Bourne takes this modern fairy tale and offers his own unique interpretation, combining dance, spectacular special effects and a dose of laughter thrown in to lighten the rather dark romance. Here we are on the side of the outsider, forced to imagine what it is like to be shunned or bullied for being different.

Lez Brotherston has contributed extraordinary sets and costumes – the show is worth seeing for these alone – with dancing hedges, witty wigs and an abundance of snow. Bourne’s choreography is a tad repetitive at times and some of the longer dances could do with a little cutting, but the overall effect is charming. At the performance I saw, Liam Mower was outstanding as Edward, giving us a moving portrait of innocence, confusion and hurt. Katrina Lyndon was appealing as his love Kim, and all the dancers in the company take on several roles. It is a colourful work and suitable for all the family, though very small children may find parts a little scary.

At the London Coliseum, the English National Ballet is making its annual visit with performances of Nutcracker (unlike the production at the Royal Opera House, this version drops the definite article). Peter Farmer’s designs are pretty (the women in the Act I party scene look particularly elegant) and the two main waltzes – the Snowflakes and the Flowers – look good, but the production now appears stale. This version has been in the company’s repertoire since 2010 and it is time for a re-vamp.

On opening night, the adult Clara was danced by Sangeun Lee, who gave a beautiful account of the famous Sugar Plum Fairy variation (in this production, the dancer takes on both roles). However, the narrative is confusing and the choreography does not always work. These hard-working dancers deserve better.

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