There are very few certainties in life, or theatre. One is surely that a night with a New Adventures dance production is always magical. The latest revival of Edward Scissorhands definitely confirms the rule, even if this is far from stellar Matthew Bourne.
Tim Burton’s classic movie was first reinvented as a ballet in 2005. As one would expect with this creative team, the show feels as fresh and spectacular as it must have been nearly two decades ago.
The iconic score was made for movement and Danny Elfman’s composition marries beautifully with the newer music and arrangements created by Terry Davies. Enchanting is really the only word for it.
Fans of the cult flick can be reassured. This is a faithful retelling of the story of the unfinished humanoid with scissors for hands. However, anyone new to the tale may miss some of the detail which could well lessen the romance.
An elderly lady (Kerry Biggin) moves falteringly across the stage as gorgeous, projected snowflakes slowly form words and we are introduced to the story behind our hero. When his inventor dies suddenly, before having a chance to complete his creation, Edward (Liam Mower) is forced out into the world.
Edward finds himself in Hope Springs. The quintessential American town, and its cast of clearly drawn characters, are perfectly introduced in the Suburban Ballet. The number starts with a stunning sunrise thanks to Howard Harrison’s lighting design and Duncan McLean’s projections.
Forced to rummage in bins for food, Edward’s luck turns when he is welcomed into Peg Boggs home. Peg’s neighbours eventually also come round to their shockingly sharp new resident, with some notable exceptions. Of greater concern, perhaps, is the doomed love affair with Peg’s daughter Kim (Katrina Lyndon).
There are some superbly choreographed set pieces, and the show really comes alive when the whole company take to the stage for the synchronised barbeque, barbering and ball numbers. Sadly, the story drags somewhat, and a fair bit of time could be shaved off the duration without losing the magic.
As Edward, Liam Mower is extraordinarily brilliant. Clearly channelling Johnny Depp, Mower moves with heart-breaking clarity. It is impossible not to fall in love as his blades quiver with excitement.
Lez Brotherston’s costumes are pleasingly quirky and clever. The topiary dancers are something else. Unfortunately, the plastic sound of Edward’s scissors clashing against each other breaks the spell somewhat.
No expense has been spared with the sets and design. There are certain images (the shadow of a music box ballerina or the haunting snowfall at the finale) which will live long in the memory.
Sir Matthew Bourne’s direction and choreography blends comedy, romance and pathos in an accessible way that very few others can.
But, despite the beautiful sadness, this production isn’t quite at the level of Swan Lake or The Red Shoes. It is still a magical escape.
Reviewer: Peter Ruddick
Reviewed: 29th November 2023
North West End UK Rating: