Matthew Bourne’s magical dance production of Edward Scissorhands has carved a place in the hearts of audiences world-wide since its premiere in 2005.
Based on the classic Tim Burton movie and featuring the hauntingly beautiful music of Danny Elfman and Terry Davies, Bourne and his New Adventures Company return to this witty, bittersweet story of an incomplete boy left alone in a strange new world.
In a castle high on a hill lives Edward; a boy created by an eccentric inventor. When his creator dies he is left alone and unfinished with only scissors for hands until a kindly townswoman invites him to live with her suburban family. Can Edward find his place in the well-meaning community which struggles to see past his curious appearance to the innocence and gentleness within?
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Our review on Edward Scissorhands
Edward Scissorhands - The Lowry, Salford - Wednesday 29th November 2023 by Karen Ryder
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS IS PURE MAGICAL BEAUTY! THE PERFECT PRODUCTION TO SEE THIS TIME OF THE YEAR!
Matthew Bourne and New Adventures production of Edward Scissorhands may have had its last major revival in 2014, and the Tim Burton film may have been way back in 1990, but this deliciously gothic love story has not aged, shrivelled, or diminished under the duress of time. If anything, it is more relevant than ever and has returned with an abundance of heart, hope and a headstrong approach of favouring the intricacies of the characters, to plunge us into this fantasy world and question the idea of acceptance where being different is feared. It hits home in a tragic yet stunning way. This production even features the compellingly beautiful music of Danny Elfman and Terry Davies. It is touring right through till June next year, but I have to say that watching it at The Lowry in the run up to Christmas feels like the perfect time to watch this production, with its themes of love, family, acceptance, and the magical spirit of all things connected with snow and ice.
Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands tells the story of Edward, a humanoid product born out of love by a grieving inventor, desperate to honour his son. But as the inventor is tormented by local youths, he has a heart attack and passes away before completing Edward, leaving him without hands. Enter all the scissors and blades. Edwards need to survive sees him entering the local town searching for food. Local mum Peg innocently approaches him, and her initial fear is replaced with the necessity to nurture and protect him. Peg connects with Edwards vulnerable nature, takes him home and introduces him to her family and community. He is welcomed by all at first, and he impresses by cutting topiaries, grooming dogs, and giving the local women fancy hair styles. But as Edward falls in love with Peg’s daughter Kim, jealousy sets in from her boyfriend Jim, and Edwards trusting nature is tested in the cruellest of ways. Unintentional cuts from Edward are repackaged as vicious and purposeful attacks, and as his trusting nature and yearning to fit in is manipulated by Jim, he is set up to take the blame for ruining the Christmas party. As things spiral further out of control courtesy of Jim's jealousy, Edward finds himself in an impossible position with a disastrous outcome.
Bourne is a master at storytelling through dance and movement, and with this production of Edward Scissorhands, I have no idea how he has excelled himself, but excelled he has. This is more than just the retelling of someone else’s story. It is a production that lives, breathes and feels every moment of each character, wrapping the audience up in a big blanket of emotion and teaching you what empathy really is. It is incredible and Bourne has been so generous with his interpretation. I mean, it’s a humanoid with scissors for hands at the end of the day. We shouldn’t be able to understand what that would feel like. Yet the arc of this show is so deeply rooted in all those infinite complex human qualities that allow us to feel, connect, emote, trust, love, and fear, that somehow, you do. You feel Edwards pain, his vulnerability, his confusion, naivety, innocence, whilst hovering above at the same time and seeing how that kind of pure soul can be equally embraced or abused. And he does so with snippets of different dance styles, or nods to other classics, whilst playing around with the fun idea of an idyllic suburban America amidst the gothic elements that Edwards eccentricity brings.
Lez Brotherston has designed this make-believe world with such loving care, imagination, and magic, that it no longer feels make believe, but a living wonderland right in front of you. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was dying to jump up and explore. 1950’s suburban America is captured in a light-hearted, fun and picture perfect manner, with rows of matchbox houses, complete with letterbox stands, grey metal bins, and of course, topiaries. The larger topiaries bring an elevated grandeur to the set, which exquisitely transform from the beauty of Christmas where they are decorated with twinkling fairy lights, to the more sinister cemetery where they are fixed with red, unnerving eyes. Juxtaposed against this we see the dark and gothic wrought iron cemetery that houses Edwards original home. Reflected against the fantasy elements such as the ice sculpture or dancing topiary, the contrast is gripping, stunning and jaw dropping.
Scene changes are so swift, dramatic and all-encompassing that each transformation feels like a magical reveal akin to walking through the wardrobe to Narnia time and time again. The finite detail makes the whole thing a spectacle to behold, right down to the slashed and jagged lines of Edwards costume against the 1950’s themed clothes and Halloween costumes, complete with a giant pumpkin! Glamour is on offer courtesy of the Christmas party where we see nifty suits, pretty net dresses, and sparkling attire. And still the costumes changes keep coming, from fun cheerleading outfits, to stiff and serious, right through to bathing costumes for a scene at the local swimming pool.
The combination of lighting (Howard Harrison) and video projections (Duncan McLean) add a spectacular element to the performance. With projections igniting screens at both the front and the back of the stage, the effect is three dimensional, encompassing the entire stage in a snow fall or a rain pour. And when the projected falling snow flies around to form words that help tell the story, wow. It is straight out of a fairy tale and lights up your inner child with a pure form of glee.
Liam Mower is so authentic and incredible as Edward Scissorhands, that with no disrespect meant in any way, he will make you say Johnny who? His walk, a head tilt, the way he somehow emotes through his scissors, his imitations of other characters, his jerky isolations, his drunken movements, right through to his stunning lyrical solos and partner work, he will entrance you. He is not only an outrageously talented dancer, but the acting is second to none. Mower delivers wit and comic timing one moment, has your heart racing with pride the next and surfaces an instinctual need to protect him from the worst of the world. He is a true character performer and he will steal your heart. Katrina Lyndon is transformative as Kim. Starting out as the typical high school girl with the jock boyfriend, we see her mature as she allows herself to understand and accept Edward. Lyndon takes us on this discovery with an open and honest heart, and a flawless energy. Kerry Biggin, Dominic North, and Xavier Andriambolanoro Sotiya complete the Boggs family as mum Peg, dad Bill and brother Kevin, with fantastic personality and such connection that you easily believe they are a genuine family. Each has their moment to shine, as do this entire dance company. New Adventures rejoice in their ability to bring a story to life and I promise you will find a surprise around every corner with this hard working and joyous team.
There is so much to admire, respect and fall in love with throughout this production. The array of characters on display is sublime. There are no throw away characters, with as much thought and detail placed in the smaller or passing roles as the titular one. The scenes where the town come together are a masterclass in acting, each with their own story to tell that you could watch these scenes numerous times and still find plot twists afresh as each character has their own storyline going on. We are graced with working dads placing themselves as the head of the household with their fuzzy warmth of self-importance. Housewives fill their days outwardly glowing, or perhaps trying to entice all the local males into adulterous affairs. Jocks and cheerleaders rule the teenage cohort with a self imposed popularity. Devoted church goers spread their word with the utter conviction that actually they are the higher power in this suburb and politicians canvas for votes.
Everyone thinks they are perfect in their own way, and these characters are all brought to life with a gentle humour, wit, and clever movement, such as two dads trying to outdo each other with their exercise warm up routine. The detail and ownership of each character is truly exquisite, that you are spoilt for choice. For instance, during the big dance routine at the Christmas party, characters opt in and out at certain times, allowing their individual stories to subtly unfold on the edges of the limelight. I saw one character give another a kiss on her dark and gothic cheek. She wiped it off with her hand, looked at him in disgust, then promptly licked the kiss off her hand! Genius detail! All the while, a huge dance routine is taking place centre stage.
The partner work between Edward and Kim is inventive, unique and exquisite, particularly as he can’t hold her in the usual dance positions due to all his scissors! It is a challenge that has been overcome with such triumph that it is only afterwards you kind of think – hang on – how did they manage that?! And then, amidst all the outstanding talent, creative perfection, and the seamless blending of grace and gothic, you have imagination at its best with a scene that brings the topiaries to life and is mesmerising to say the least. It is like a fairy tale, a secret garden just for Edward and Kim, with twisting patterns forming a magical maze of mystery for the duo to dance through.
I have friends who, for a long time now, have hailed Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands as their favourite show and after being lucky enough to see it myself tonight, I can understand why and concur completely. Pure magical beauty is my overwhelming feeling. I feel a strange peace, and the ending is something that will catch your emotions unawares and perhaps have you as one of the many audience members wiping away a tear or two. I may have just fallen a little in love with Edward Scissorhands. I think you might too.
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