EDWARD SCISSORHANDS devised, choreographed and directed by Matthew Bourne, after Tim Burton's film (New Adventures). At the Hummingbird Centre (1 Front East). To April 7, Thursday-Saturday, 8 pm, matinee Saturday 2 pm. $30-$80. 416-872-2262. Rating: NN Rating: NN
"Where's the singing?" My 13-year-old niece wasn't the only one asking that during the intermission for Edward Scissorhands, director/choreographer Matthew Bourne's wordless take on Tim Burton's tale of a misunderstood orphan looking for love and acceptance in suburbia. I countered with: "And where's the drama?"
Anyone who's seen The Overcoat knows that dance/theatre can work given a rich enough narrative and a strong theatrical eye. Here, Bourne (The Car Man, Swan Lake), one of the world's most celebrated choreographers, seems hemmed in by the material and never manages to make it his own.
Not that the touring piece doesn't look great. Designer Lez Brotherston evokes a poppy neo-50s world of pastel-coloured suburban bungalows and care-free fashions (complete with a boy's beanie with propeller on top), which contrasts well with Edward's gothic Northbound Leather-meets-Henckel look.
As the archetypal outsider, the figure of Edward still manages to move us. With sharp scissors for fingers (a detail not explained very well in the stage show), he hurts what he touches, and he resorts to creating stunning topiary, wild hairstyles or (in the work's most moving scene) a huge ice sculpture to express himself and gain acceptance.
The problem is, these themes don't evolve much during the show. Many of Bourne's scenes go on for twice their necessary length. And once he sets up the suburb's various families, he doesn't do much with them either. Edward's encounter with the neighbourhood's very desperate housewife, for instance, collapses into pointlessness.
Sometimes, a bit of dialogue or a song can communicate more than a bit of movement.
Still, Sam Archer (who alternates with Richard Winsor) makes a loveable lead character, and Edward's second-act duet with his beloved, Kim Boggs (Kerry Biggin/Hannah Vassallo), is a bravura bit of dancing that captures the awkwardness and tenderness of this mismatched couple.
More creative movement like this – and not just a pastiche of old sock-hop routines – would have given this Edward more edge.