REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s ‘Edward Scissorhands’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2024

 

Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands uses clear-cut narrative dance to tenderly show the value of an outstretched hand.

The whimsical dance–theatre production of Tim Burton’s classic film is delighting audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre this week. Cutting straight to the point, if you are yet to experience a Bourne ballet this ode to acceptance is an especially accessible offering to start with. Chop chop though, performances by Sir Matthew’s New Adventures company inevitably sell out.

Edward Scissorhands is a story that dances between ordinary human happenings and a fantasy existence. Young Edward dies after being struck by lightning while holding a pair of scissors. His distraught father, who is an inventor, devotes himself to bringing Edward back to life. Devastatingly, the dedicated dad suffers a fatal heart attack before he can complete his handiwork and leaves behind a lonely boy who has dangerous blades instead of dexterous fingers.

Kindly townswoman Peg Boggs discovers Edward and invites him to stay with her family in the suburban haven of Hope Springs. However, the well-meaning community struggles to see past Edward’s curious appearance. Will Edward, the ultimate outsider, find his place and gain the residents’ acceptance?

 

Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands. Kim Boggs (Katrina Lyndon) and Edward (Liam Mower) dance together.

 

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NEWS: Look sharp for Matthew Bourne’s ‘Edward Scissorhands’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2024

 

A cutting-edge fairy tale will be brought to life through captivating dance when Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands returns to Milton Keynes Theatre this month.

Fans of dance, theatre and film simply must experience this slice of cleverly choreographed entertainment that tells the touching tale of Edward, a lonely boy with a full set of paper-cutters at the end of each arm. When he is invited to stay with a kind family in the town of Hope Springs, Edward is the ultimate outsider in a strange suburban world. Will the community be able to see past his appearance and accept him as the gentle soul he truly is?

Sir Matthew Bourne’s distinctive dance–theatre style blends assorted dance genres (he works with dancers who have a mixture of contemporary, musical theatre and ballet training) and is ultimately inspired by a desire to tell relevant stories. This gives his productions a widespread appeal. Indeed, the narrative themes of individuality, young love, bullying and being an outsider that are sewn throughout Edward Scissorhands are universal.

The whimsical production, which is based on Tim Burton’s 1990 film, has carved a place in the hearts of audience members worldwide since its premiere in 2005. Theatregoers in Milton Keynes fell in love with the show when Bourne’s New Adventures company presented it here in 2015. The popular choreographer ensured a talented troupe of dancers delighted us with his trademark razor-sharp wit, clear-cut characterisation and magical storytelling.

This revival will arrive fresh from charming audiences at Sadler’s Wells over the Christmas season. It is sure to be a shear spectacle on tour too.

 

The cast of Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands. Edward (Liam Mower) with residents of Hope Springs.

 

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REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, September 2023

 

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet is an absorbing dance–theatre production that articulately explores both the ferocity of love and the fragility of the mind.

Devised in 2019 as a project to nurture and showcase emerging dancers and creatives, this striking interpretation of Shakespeare’s tragic romance is now being toured nationwide by Bourne’s New Adventures company. Clearly influenced and inspired by the young people who helped bring it to life, the show is charged with a raw, youthful energy and bursting with relevant themes.

Sir Bourne never shies away from radically reimagining scenarios. Here, he incarcerates his star-crossed lovers as inmates at the Verona Institute. This coldly clinical setting is some sort of correctional facility where the movements of adolescents are restricted. It could be a mental health unit, but it is left intentionally vague so that we make up our own (whirring and wowed) minds. The programme notes simply specify that the action takes place in the not-too-distant future, over a period of about three weeks.

This ambiguity lends itself incredibly well to the process of self-discovery and the crazed impulsivity of first love. The familiar feuding families format is replaced with generational conflict centred around the control imposed over non-conforming, cast-out juveniles (this includes sexual abuse and homophobic bullying). And there are no hard-to-swallow notions of potions (swallowing only occurs when the quirky youngsters gulp down their meds under the watchful gaze of a nurse and psychiatrist).

The title characters fall madly in love. Feelings are supressed and expressed. Violence erupts and lives are lost. The story told is recognisable as Romeo and Juliet – just rejigged in insightful and inventive ways for maximum impact as a gripping, unpredictable dance–drama.

 

Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet. Romeo (Paris Fitzpatrick) and Juliet (Cordelia Braithwaite) walk together holding hands as other inmates throw confetti.

 

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NEWS: Follow your heart to Matthew Bourne’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, September 2023

 

Dance and theatre fans in Milton Keynes can expect to fall madly in love with Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet this month.

Directed and choreographed by Sir Bourne, this contemporary take on Shakespeare’s timeless tale of two star-crossed lovers promises raw passion and youthful vitality. The dance–theatre production, which was originally created as an innovative talent development project, garnered universal critical acclaim when it premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 2019.

Following this success, Bourne’s company, New Adventures, has added the production to its celebrated repertoire. Given the popularity of past performances, and the love shown for this company whenever it tours, tickets are bound to sell out.

In signature Bourne style, the era, setting, characters and plot have been reimagined with the intention of tackling the tale in a relevant, questioning and moving way. Nonetheless, the core ideas of forbidden love and personal sacrifice remain central to this radical remake.

Two young lovers are confined in an oppressive institution against their will, by a restrictive society that seeks to divide. What will happen when they follow their hearts and risk everything to be together?

 

Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet. Romeo (Rory MacLeod) and Juliet (Monique Jonas) dancing together.

 

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REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2023

 

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is a dreamy dance–theatre production that irresistibly reimagines a familiar tale as a gothic romance. A decade since its debut, it is as spellbinding as ever.

Choreographer and director Sir Matthew Bourne is a superlative storyteller, celebrated for cleverly refreshing well-known narratives. He adds ingenious details and uses extravagant theatrics to create entertaining shows that appeal to a broad audience of non-dancegoers, as well as dance aficionados. The dancing is integral to his creations, but the magic is not in the individual steps he links together. Instead, it is the overall effect of his perceptive approach that inspires awe.

Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty embellishes the original scenario with a relatable logic, without sacrificing the fairytale allure. Traditionally, the princess wakes up after a century of enforced slumber and weds the first man she sees. This stranger finds her thanks to intervention from the Lilac Fairy. Bourne makes the love story more convincing, but remains mindful that we are all suckers for some fantasy. His Princess Aurora falls in love before she falls asleep: romance blossoms between the royal and her childhood sweetheart. Count Lilac, King of the Fairies, then gamely sinks his teeth into solving the problem of how Aurora’s beloved can still be there for her one hundred years later.

When Marius Petipa’s classical ballet premiered in 1890, belief in fairies was widespread. When Bourne devised his vamped-up version, which premiered in late 2012, everyone had been bitten by the vampire trend. Nowadays? Flutter your wings and flaunt your fangs! Seriously, how can you not fall under the spell of a production that features fairies, vampires, a time-travelling love story and dramatic, dynamic dancing?

 

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty. New Adventures dancers Andrew Monaghan and Ashley Shaw, dancing the rose garden duet.

 

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