The QT

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Review: Edward Scissorhands

David Whetstone renews acquaintance with an old Matthew Bourne favourite at Newcastle Theatre Royal
Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands. Credit Johan Persson

Nothing at all for Sir Matthew Bourne to worry about in Newcastle. Not on stage anyway.

Back at the Theatre Royal for the first time since 2005, his Edward Scissorhands earned a standing ovation from a sell-out audience on opening night, probably the first of many during a run that extends into a second week.

And it was Edward himself who did it, bringing people to their feet as he appeared after everyone else, an awkward, diffident figure with spiky hair and blades for fingers.

It made for a touching finale, a spontaneous gesture of appreciation and acceptance of a character whose otherness is perhaps less stark than it was when the original Tim Burton film came out in 1990 and even when the Bourne dance adaptation was premiered nearly 20 years ago.

For all that divides us, we’re surely more tolerant of physical difference than we were – and certainly more so than in the plastic American suburbia of the 1950s where this gothic fantasy is set and religious zealots are liable to point a disapproving finger.

Katrina Lyndon (Kim Boggs) and Liam Mower (Edward) in Edward Scissorhands. Credit: Johan Persson

Having Edward danced by Liam Mower must have added to the warmth of the reception.

A stalwart of Bourne’s New Adventures company since 2011, he was preparing to step out as the very first stage Billy Elliot when Edward Scissorhands was filling Sadler’s Wells ahead of the tour that would bring it to Newcastle.

I saw it in both places, loved it, obviously, and was curious to be reminded why.

The answer is that it’s bright and colourful to look at, immaculately danced by an ensemble that looks as if it’s overdosing on fun and with music adapted from Danny Elfman’s film score that never lets up, a river of sound spanning genres and moods.

The essentials of the story begin with a clear nod to Frankenstein, the creation of Edward by an inventor/scientist who then dies, leaving the boy all alone.

He wanders into Hope Springs, kitsch manifestation of the domestic American dream, where he is confronted by sympathetic mum Peg Boggs after rummaging noisily in her dustbin.

She takes him in and the lawnmowing, cheerleading neighbourhood of neatly turned out suburban oddballs gradually warms to him.

He trims their hedges, their poodles and finally their hair; and he proves useful at a barbecue with his built in utensils.

Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands. Credit Johan Persson

Only the growing interest of young Kim Boggs, who has a possessive boyfriend called Jim, signals trouble ahead.

As well as the Boggs family, there are the Monroes, the Uptons, the Evercreeches, the Covitts and the Gaibrights, the latter headed by a same sex couple new to the story this time round.

Every dancer inhabits a character fulsomely with flamboyant and nuanced gestures, interacting and conveying emotion with never a word spoken. In a show full of visual jokes, the families out for a drive in their invisible cars is simple but genius.

Matthew Bourne has spent more than 20 years building an audience in the North East and there’s no sign of interest wilting. Quite the reverse. It’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed by this returning favourite, still as fresh as a daisy.

Edward Scissorhands is in Newcastle until April 6. Tickets – still a few left – from the theatre website or call the box office on 0191 232 7010.


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