Birmingham Hippodrome – until 10th February 2024
Reviewed by Emma Millward
Sir Matthew Bourne and dance-theatre company New Adventures have become renowned for unique productions that draw their inspiration from popular culture, films or put a completely new spin on old classics (such as his updated Swan Lake that used all-male dancers as the Swans). Fresh from an extended Christmas run at London’s Sadler’s Wells, the company’s latest production of Edward Scissorhands arrives at Birmingham Hippodrome this week to begin its UK tour.
Based on Director Tim Burton’s classic 1990 film about a boy created by an eccentric Inventor who dies suddenly, leaving the boy with only scissors for hands. Years later, he meets a kind lady who takes him to live in her picture-perfect suburban neighbourhood, Hope Springs, where the residents are both fascinated and concerned by the new arrival.
Liam Mower wonderfully captures the naivety and innocence of Edward, complete with the stunted walk and ever confused and pained facial expression that fans of the original movie will remember so well. His first anxious meeting with the kind hearted Peg Boggs (Sophia Hurdley) has her tenderly apply cream to his scarred face. Edward meets the many varied residents of Hope Springs, the man-eater, the jocks, cheerleaders and the exceptionally religious Evercreech Family, who completely distrust Edward. He also meets Peg’s husband Bill (Dominic North) and her beautiful daughter Kim (Ashley Shaw), who he immediately falls in love with. She has an obnoxious boyfriend called Jim (Ben Brown) who is openly jealous of the burgeoning attraction between Edward and Kim. Edward and his scissors soon become a hit, first using them to shape topiaries, then grooming the neighbourhood dogs, before becoming a hairstylist for the ladies in Hope Springs. Jealously from certain townsfolk soon brings resentment and Edward is soon made an outcast once more.
The story is told entirely through music and dance, with no dialogue (except the occasional gasp of shock or delight!). The hauntingly beautiful music is from both the film’s original composer, Danny Elfman and New Adventure’s composer, Terry Davies. The clever set design and costumes by Lez Brotherston are exquisite and totally bring Hope Springs to life on the stage with its vibrant colours and quaint houses as a backdrop to the story.
There are a few brilliant slapstick moments that work really well. The men of the town getting ready to go for a run in the morning, one of them in very short shorts made the audience chuckle! The seduction dance with amorous neighbour Joyce (Nicole Kabera) involving a huge beanbag that falls from the rafters is both sexy and funny, especially the finale of the dance involving a washing machine on high spin!
Edward and Kim’s love story starts off shaky with her feeling uncertain about him. The famous ice sculpting scene from the film is replicated, it made clever use of an animated snowfall backdrop and was so beautiful. Edward and Kim go on to share two mesmerising dances. The first dance brings the first half of the show to a tearful climax, a dream sequence where Edward has hands and they dance among the topiaries. The second dance, as they say their final goodbyes, Edward is able to lift Kim safely above his head, in spite of his scissors. Both received rapturous applause.
The standing ovation and thundering applause that Liam Mower received at the curtain-call speaks for itself. For a few hours, the audience were transported to another world, one full of heartbreak, joy and wonder.