There are some combinations that you just know will be a winner and in this case, Matthew Bourne, Edwards Scissorhands and Christmas is one of them. Reviving his 2005 production, Bourne is back with a perfectly atmospheric gothic treat that will be remembered long into the future. Wide-eyed and vulnerable, Dominic North reprises his role as Edward with just the right amount of shy dorkiness and gentle humour in his attempts to win over the daughter of a local family. His struggle for acceptance is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking and his often expressed bewilderment only endears us to him more.
Brett Morris’s musical direction is an excellent accompaniment to Bourne’s choreography. The hauntingly beautiful score enhances the atmosphere Bourne creates on stage and is the difference between simply watching as a spectator, and truly engaging with Edward’s troubles. The more emotive moments brought tears to my eyes on a number of occasions, with the final denouement leaving me breathless with grief.
Lez Brotherston’s original set designs are both eye-catching and memorable. The bedroom of Edward’s love interest Kim (played by petite Ashley Shaw) is a sea of pink, adorned with wholesome all-American cheerleader figures and the aspirational “Hope Spring High” motto emblazoned on the walls. Equally, neighbourhood suburbia is depicted with the perfect amount of Desperate Housewives creepiness, hinting at the community on the verge of imploding with Edward as the catalyst.
The dancing topiary scene is the highlight of Act One and is the only sequence where Edward’s scissor hands are cast aside; he is released from the imprisonment of his restrictive body and his true character can flourish in a romantic duet with Kim. Their movement is fluid, smooth and sweeps you away in a dream-like state to Edward’s world.
The detail in the chorus is impressive too, with each family having their own motifs; religious extremists wielding their crucifixes, the prim and preened stay at home Mom, a bouncing cheerleading daughter and basketball-playing son. Bourne knows these are predictable clichés and we are smiling with him.
The ensemble moments build anticipation well, however the key narrative moments happen all too quickly: there’s no time to truly digest the big moments. I wanted longer to soak in the visual feast, the emotions, the fluidity of movement and the story. Edward’s finale is over in a flash and I immediately missed him. Bourne leaves you wanting more, which of course, one can argue, is exactly what a choreographer should do.
First published on AYoungerTheatre.com