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Review | Edward Scissorhands | The Lowry | 29/11/2023

Edward Scissorhands began its life as a teenage drawing by Tim Burton. Capturing his own feelings off isolation in suburbia, the idea was born and later turned into the cult classic film Edward Scissorhands in 1990. Fast forward to 2005 and the incomparable king of modern ballet Matthew Bourne premiered his acclaimed reinterpretation of it, a version that is now being toured again across the country.

This is the story of an inventor who attempts to create a son, Edward. Sadly he dies before his creation is complete, leaving the boy with scissors for hands. Hidden away from the world, Edward attempts to integrate with the town of Hope Springs after Peg Boggs welcomes him into her family home. When these two very different worlds collide, we see peoples true colours and whether or not they can accept an outsider.

Being based on such a treasured film comes with almost impossible expectations. However whilst staying faithful to the original film, this production has its own unique identity without attempting to painstakingly replicate either the costuming or narrative. A welcome new dynamic is found as we get an understanding of why the inventor set about creating Edward in the first place. This opens the show and tugs at the audiences heartstrings from the very start.

Liam Mower triumphs as the title character, embodying a child like innocence through his every movement. He does so with so much heart, which really pulls the audience in and endears them to the character. Having joined Matthew Bournes New Adventures company in 2011 after playing Billy in the original west end cast of Billy Elliot, he is every bit as accomplished as his CV suggests. Stephanie Billers as sultry neighbour Joyce Monroe injects so much humour with her every facial expression and movement, it was hard to take your eyes off her. The supporting cast are of course faultless, which is to be expected in any Matthew Bourne production. As well as the standard nuclear families being represented, same sex relationships and families are also given a spotlight. Bourne often likes to do this in his productions, and it is always wonderful to see.

The spirit of the film is felt throughout, aided through the music. Danny Elfman’s iconic score is intertwined beautifully with Terry Davies’ wonderful new music and arrangements. Whilst many would question why a masterpiece like Tim Burton’s film would need to be revived in any other form, the reason is found here. When the music and dancing come together it is truly magical, adding a level of theatricality which cinema could never capture. The score has never felt more powerful, moving and heartbreaking than when juxtaposed against Bournes beautiful choreography.

Interesting contrast is found at every level, with the contradictions between gothic and suburbia seen throughout. This is achieved in part by Lez Brotherston’s impressive set design which balances the pastel colours of the town against the dark and moody setting of the castle from which Edward comes. Brotherston was also responsible for the costume design which was utterly delicious. A conscious effort has been made to create something striking and new, which pays off in spades.

The choreography is more of an emotive vehicle to explore characters personas and emotions, than an opportunity to flaw the audience with impressive dance numbers. Whilst a lot of the changes are for the better, changes in regards to Edwards downfall feel less impactful. Even with this minor critique, this is still a superb show brimming heart. The art of ballet can often seem inaccessible to the masses, but this far from the case here. As ever, Matthew Bourne smashes down the walls of elitism to prove that everyone is welcome at the ballet. For anyone not sure if ballet is for them, this visual treat of a show will open your eyes in the most wonderful way.

Edward Scissorhands is on at The Lowry until Saturday 02 December 2023.

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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