Edward Scissorhands

Matthew Bourne, Lez Brotherston & Terry Davies based on the film by Tim Burton, screenplay Caroline Thompson, music by Danny Elfman
New Adventures
Newcastle Theatre Royal

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Christina Rebecca Gibbs as Charity Upton Credit: Johan Persson
The company in Edward Scissorhands Credit: Johan Persson
Liam Mower as Edward Credit: Johan Persson

It is always exciting to see a Matthew Bourne production; he’s a consummate choreographer with a terrific range of crowd-pulling works. He and New Adventures company return to Newcastle this week with a revival of Edward Scissorhands, originally choreographed in 2005 and based on the 1990 film by Tim Burton, with screenplay by Caroline Thompson and music by Danny Elfman, which starred Johnny Depp.

New Adventures is the only company in the world to have created a stage version, and it holds closely to the original story about an innocent creature, whose maker dies before he has completed him, leaving him without hands but with scissors instead. Brought up in a tower, Edward flees on the death of his maker, entering the real world naïve and innocent. Being different, he is sometimes feared, sometimes derided, but is welcomed into a clean-living American suburban family, The Boggs; his adventures, the love he finds and his ultimately tragic death is a modern fable.

The show opens with a flashback, which gives context to his creation and his flight from the tower.

The different worlds are amazingly realised—the suburban street set and costumes by the legendary Lez Brotherston, where six small families live, is pitch-perfect Americana, with superb lighting by Howard Harrison. The park scene is also fantastic. Edward, finely danced by Liam Mower, is made at home by the Boggs family, parents Peg and Bill (Kerry Biggin and Glenn Graham) and their two children, Kim and Kevin. He finds himself rapidly falling in love with cheerleading Kim, danced with aplomb by Ashley Shaw.

The rest of the street's inhabitants react in different ways—he’s an outsider, he looks different, he doesn’t have hands and scissors are dangerous and/or useful! The Christian fundamentalist family, the EverCreechs, are against him and show it.

There are some fantastic group dances, with clever characterisation, a vast number of costumes and lots of quirky individual movement popping up. Two dream sequences are squeezed in and act 1 ends with a strong image of Edward Scissorhands longing for Kim.

Act 2 starts with the Eduardo salon, where he is shown at the height of his popularity and does everything from hairdressing to topiary with great success. The topiary dream scene leans towards over the top, but the duet between Kim and Edward is filled with Bourne’s trademark, inventive choreography, full of joy and romance.

It is at the Christmas celebrations that things go awry, and the final moments of the show are moving and poignant. This production has pace, colour, style, razzamatazz and speedy movement. Bourne has a close-knit team who’ve worked together for years, and this is both a strength and a weakness as Edward Scissorhands occasionally borders on the predictable and obvious. There are so many costumes changes, so many sets, such bright lighting and, despite good dancing, particularly from Mower's Edward, it can feel a little shallow. The music, which has re-arrangements and new material by Terry Davies, tends to the sugary. The irony that is intended in this production doesn’t always work, sadly.

However, the audience gave the cast a standing ovation; Edward Scissorhands had been taken to their hearts!

Reviewer: Dora Frankel

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