Edward Scissorhands - A New Adventures Production - 12 December 2014 Review

An enchanting stage adaptation of Burton's beloved modern classic tale.

Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands is a contemporary fairy tale which attributes the origin of snow to a boy created by a Frankenstein-esque inventor who dies before he can give the boy hands. In their place the boy is endowed with an assortment of scissors. The boy experiments with hair styling, hedge trimming and eventually ice sculpture which leads him to create snow as a byproduct, building relationships with the local townspeople along the way.

Edward Scissorhands is a beloved modern classic with a distinct cinematic visual style and a convoluted narrative, and it is certainly not the most obvious choice for a balletic adaptation. However Bourne succeeds in transferring both the story and the aesthetic to the stage with a remarkable level of faithfulness. The set by Lez Brotherman reproduces Burton’s expressionist castle without compromise and by creating a two-dimensional pastiche of the white-picket-fence bungalows adds whimsicality and charm to the suburban American cliché. One is immediately beguiled by the familiarity of the staging and the costume, but may be confused by certain narrative alterations which appear to be inconsequential to the ultimate direction of the plot, such as Edward’s revised origins and murder of the inventor rather than his natural death.

Liam Mower is incredibly endearing as Edward Scissorhands and his embodiment of Edward’s initially timid and nervous manner and subsequent transformation to a confident if not bumbling small town celebrity is impressive and heart-warming. The other two members of the love triangle Kim and Jim Upton, played by Katy Lowenhoff and Dominic Lamb, are disadvantaged by the clichéed nature of their characters and so have less to play with as performers, yet their prowess is still evident in their charisma and excellent comic timing.

The stand out moments of the night are without doubt the ensemble pieces in which the level of detail is often overwhelming. As an audience member one struggles deciding where to focus given that at any one moment there are several comic situations being played out simultaneously. It is these scenes in particular that capture the humour of the film, which is often located in the dialogue, thereby demonstrating Bourne’s skill with the more delicate and nuanced aspects of choreography. This is furthermore displayed in the range of characters and physicalities present on stage in the group dances, that while performing the same routine do not at all compromise their individual eccentricities.

The piece does at times verge on becoming cloying and sentimental but the comic vignettes and interactions between the towns people manage to provide balance. All in all it is an enchanting and thoroughly entertaining piece of dance theatre whose faults are easily forgivable for its level of charm.

Guest Reviewed By Oliver Knighman

The Crucible
12 December 2014, Sadler's Wells