Edward Scissorhands – Review

Edward Scissorhands. Photos Johan Persson
Edward Scissorhands. Photos Johan Persson

It has been nearly a decade since innovative choreographer Matthew Bourne first introduced Edward Scissorhands to Milton Keynes Theatre and tonight they were both enthusiastically welcomed back.

Scissorhands was the first of Bourne’s productions I ever saw and it left a lasting impression. My enthusiasm for the show saw me spread the word, a dance evangelist, to friends and colleagues, converting many to other productions that followed.

I couldn’t wait to see his revival.

It didn’t disappoint. If I hadn’t been on crutches I would have joined the audience in their prolonged standing ovation. Mr Bourne is a favourite with the MK crowd and his New Adventures dance company never fails to thrill.

Bourne unashamedly admits that he was entranced by the magical 1990 Tim Burton film that starred Johnny Depp. It took the director and choreographer 15 years for a dance version to be perfected.

It’s helped by having a dream team around him. Working on Caroline Thompson’s story is Terry Davies whose grand, sweeping and immensely romantic, music casts its own special spell to complement an original film score by Danny Elfman.

The atmospheric lighting and sound are by Howard Harrison and Paul Groothus while Bourne’s talented set and costume designer, Lez Brotherston, once again excels himself.

The Tim Burton-inspired set gives us the identikit community of Hope Springs complete with its Stepford Wives and troublesome teens.

Edward Scissorhands. Images by Johan Persson

It’s very 1950s kitsch with six distinct families ranging from the religious fire and brimstone Goths (the Evercreech clan whose parents have stepped straight out of a Grant Woods painting) to the all-American, squeaky clean, Boggs.

The moms wear stunning fitted dresses with full midi-length circular skirts while the kids are apple-pie fresh in gingham, cut off jeans (not the Goths, obviously) and sporting Colgate smiles and Brylcreemed hair.

The only exception to the rule is the foxy red-headed seductress Joyce Monroe (a sizzling performance by Madelaine Brennan) who spurns her weedy husband to pursue the young Scissorhands.

The story is told in flashback by an elderly woman who hobbles onto the stage (she had my sympathy) brandishing a pair of scissors. Hers is a story like no other.

A mad inventor cobbles together his own version of the Frankenstein monster but tragedy strikes before he can finish his creation.

Alone and afraid the creature, a slightly built boy with dressmaking shears for fingers, stumbles off and soon arrives at civilisation.

A social misfit, he finds acceptance, and a new life, with the Boggs family, and falls in love with their daughter Kim.

Pretty soon the whole neighbourhood has adopted Edward (especially the rampant Joyce) and his imaginative topiary skills leads to a job as a hairdresser

But danger lurks in the shadows as the town’s wayward youths wait to drive the impressionable boy from their community.

Dominic North’s turn as Edward, on opening night, was spell-binding.

He has a couple of duets with Kim (Ashley Shaw) which are deeply moving. In one dream sequence Edward appears with real hands to take Kim in his arms, in a Topiary Garden of his making, replete with a company of evergreen dancers.

It is a fairytale, complete with falling snow, that will delight young and old.

There’s wit and humour, glamour by the bucket-load, and enough pathos to have you choking back a tear. It is impossible not to be moved by this masterpiece from England’s premier dance director and choreographer.

Edward Scissorhands is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday.

*****stars

Remaining 2015 tour dates

February 24-28, Bradford Alhambra
March 3-7, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
March 10-14, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

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