Growing up in the nineties, I loved Tim Burton and I loved Johnny Depp and I absolutely loved when the two came together to personify the ultimate goth-chic aesthetic. I can't tell you how many times I've watched Edward Scissorhands, only that I had a copy of the VHS long before I bought the DVD. It's a fantastic movie, surreal and satirical and truly beautiful as a modern fable. When I heard that the Brooklyn Studio Lab was bringing the classic to the stage, I was skeptical, to say the least, but also intrigued.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend one of the final performances of the play, which ran through July 3. It was clear that this was going to be a different experience than the film, which cost $20 million to make in 1990. Without a significant budget and faced with the obvious logistical limitations that differentiate stage production from cinema, director Richard Crawford was forced to get creative. Many artists involved in the production donated their time and even money, and it's obvious that their hearts are seriously in it.
The audience was seated around small cabaret-style tables, in the midst of a set that takes over not only the stage but the stairs and balcony, designed by Tom Taylor and Kelly Armendariz. The actors use their space well, weaving into the audience and turning heads as they move from the front to the back of the space. The costumes are phenomenal, created by Sam Hill: my favorite was a garishly flowered trenchcoat that neighborhood sexpot Joyce (Sally Golan) rips off to reveal a matching low-cut dress in the exact same pattern.
Perhaps the most impressed audience member was the friend I brought who had, incredibly, never seen the film version of Edward Scissorhands. I can only imagine that his enjoyment was furthered by not having that nagging voice in the back of his head consistently comparing the play's leads to the performances, dripping with emotional complexity, given by Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder and Dianne Wiest twenty years ago.
However, to my delight the play brought out nuances and characters that I had never given a second thought to in the film, overshadowed as they were by the movie's all-star cast. The aforementioned Sally Golan (who also provided PR services for the production) gives Joyce the fantastic over-the-top performance that the character deserves, while Stephen Langton carried the first half of the play as Kevin Boggs, the adolescent son whose reaction to Edward's arrival is hilarious to watch.
Zoe Rosario gives a mixed performance as leading lady Kim Boggs. Her body language is excellent, and she plays well off of both Serge Valez, hulking, hesitant and mechanical as Edward, and Giliuo Gallarotti, alternately infuriating and menacing as boyfriend Jim. But in the show's emotional climax, Rosario fell short in a difficult scene, and I'm not sure the dramatic intensity was held.
All in all an ambitious project, one that the Brooklyn Studio Lab Theatre was brave to take on, especially with the limited resources at hand. I might be too diehard a fan of the movie to give the play its due, but their take on a stage version was visually impressive and thoroughly entertaining.