By: Rosie Sharman-Ward, TRP Reviewer
Sir Matthew Bourne does it again! Funny and heart-breaking, Edward Scissorhands is a delicious triumph. His rapt audience are instantly invested in Tim Burton’s fairytale of an incomplete boy made orphan by the premature death of the Inventor who was creating him. It is a story that should be ridiculous but in the hands of Matthew Bourne it is full of empathy and humour.
The ridicule is reserved instead for the inhabitants of Hope Springs, a picture-perfect version of 1950s small town America, into which the unfortunate Edward blunders. Hope Springs is crammed with instantly recognisable characters so cleverly drawn by choreography that we know them almost as they set foot outside their immaculately kept homes. In just a few movements, we see beneath the exteriors of their superficial lives to the reality beneath. Keeping up with the Jones, or in this case the Uptons, is rife and all is most definitely not what it seems. Lez Brotherston’s superb sets and costumes are masterpieces, underpinning the choreography brilliantly and adding an extra layer of definition to each character.
Rescued from the street by motherly Mrs Boggs (Kerry Biggin) a bemused Edward is taken into an unfamiliar world. Liam Mower as Edward is completely captivating. His confusion and wary explorations of his new environment are hilarious and charming. His dance expresses every emotion and has us rooting for him with every step. We worry at his tremulous first foray out into the town and fear the reactions of the neighbours. To be fair the guy does have large scissors instead of hands so most neighbours would at the very least do a double take! Here, however, the scissors become an allegory for differing from the norm and the people of Hope Springs react with varying degrees of suspicion and dislike. The Bible punching Rev. Evercreech (Reece Causton) and his family rage and shake their crucifixes at this abomination. I particularly enjoyed daughter Esmerelda Evercreech (Mami Tomotani); she can give Wednesday Addams a run for her money any day. Vamp housewife Joyce Monroe (Stephanie Billers positively oozes as the femme fatale) is intrigued by the arrival of a new male and the gang of teenage lads about town are openly hostile.
Gradually fear of the difference is replaced by familiarity both for the townsfolk and Edward. Matt Bourne’s joyful, quirky choreography lights up the stage with ensemble dances describing our hero’s integration into society and includes many dance equivalents of comic asides which have the audience laughing out loud. Edward’s skills with his scissors bring him acclaim and customers. They also bring us a great deal of amusement.
Edward’s increasing love for Kim Boggs (Katrina Lyndon) is delicately portrayed, we so hope this unlikely romance can happen encouraged as we are by the tender dances between them. Willing them on, the sighs of the audience are accompanied by smiles as we watch them dance among Edward’s topiary, which in turn dances between them!
There is a dark undercurrent of resentment, however, as leader of the youths, spoilt bully Jim Upton, who my dad would no doubt describe as ‘a nasty piece of work’ becomes enraged by the admiration Edward receives, especially from his girlfriend, Kim. Jim (a swaggering Ben Brown) sabotages Edward with disastrous results.
I joked to friends during the interval that my review could be summed up quickly by simply writing, “It’s a Matt Bourne innit, five stars!” In fact, that is not far from the truth. Yet again New Adventures bring us a stunning show, full of warmth, brilliance and humour. The production is amazing, every dancer fabulous and a wonderful story is told. I highly recommend going to see this bittersweet show, but you may need a tissue.