Robert Tanitch reviews Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London

Robert Tanitch reviews Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London

I last saw Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands at its premiere in 2005. The faults it had eighteen years ago remain. The storyline is poor and far too much time is spent caricaturing American suburbia. The cartoonish characters are two-dimensional. A gay couple has been newly added, another cliché. Les Brotherston’s colourful designs rightly make everybody look as if they have stepped out of a popular magazine of the 1950’s.

There is a lot of mime and dancing but anybody going to see the show for the choreography will be disappointed. The morning physical exercises, the barbeque and the Christmas celebrations, all redolent of Bourne’s earlier one-act ballets, are over-extended revue sketches. They feel like padding and sideline the hero.

The erotic scene when Edward becomes a hairdresser turns him into a potential Sweeney Todd. A dominatrix’s attempted seduction of him is cheap music hall farce.

Edward Scissorhands, memorably created by Johnny Depp in the 1990 Tim Burton film, is now alternated by Liam Mower and Stephen Murray.

Murray has the perfect persona for this gentle, vulnerable, asexual creature with his shockheaded hair, pursed lips and deadly pale scared face. One of the most enjoyable scenes is a dream sequence when Edward dances in and out of the topiary he has fashioned. The shrubbery is played by the corps.

Danny Elfman’s haunting music, which gives the scene its emotional lift, also works well for the final duet when Edward tenderly wraps the girl he loves (Katrina Lloyd) in his arms, taking care not to hurt her with his blades.

The most magical moment is when Stephen Murray, in his solo curtain call, remains in character and so it seems as if Edward Scissorhands is accepting the applause.

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