Edward Scissorhands comes as a new show by choreographer Matthew Bourne known for his all-male Swan Lake. The rendition is based on Tim Burton’s 1990 film, featuring beautiful music by Danny Elfman and Terry Davies.
Before attending the performance I was not aware of it being a mime, so there I was blissfully entering Liverpool Empire Theatre composing myself and ready to be left on the edge of my seat by the thrill of the performance, and then it began. The music soundtrack was overwhelmingly powerful in communicating the wide range of emotions that cross the mind of the spectator as he/she takes it all in.
An eerie scene appears before the audience – the seemingly haunted mansion of a maddened creator-inventor scientist – this ominous character connotes with Victor Frankenstein’s creation and definitely possesses a Tim Burton-esque radiance. The dilapidated mansion is glum and uninviting, the lightening roars outside, as this looming figure is piecing together parts of a man, who remains an enigma as he cannot be seen. First the limbs are attached – an arm followed by a leg – the audience feels uneasy by this revelation and is left in wonderment: what is it that he is creating?
When left alone Edward is suddenly animated into life, his walk is robotic and rusty, like the Tin Man, struggling to force his limbs to comply with the rest of his body. This disjointed attempt at walking is a clear struggle to fit in with normality on Edward’s part, so cohesively portrayed by Dominic North. As Edward struggles, the poise of his contemporary dance is still elegant and captivating.
A heart-wrenching moment at the beginning of the play shows Edward’s creator dying without attaching his hands, and all Edward can do is pitifully stare at the promise of normality that was within his grasp but was painfully stolen from him.
Edward flees the scene and finds himself amidst a jolly fifties town of Hope Springs where he initially is feared and oscillated, however, he is then taken in by the Boggs family and soon becomes a quirky addition to the rest of the town. Everyone in town is fascinated with Edward as he often comically mimes the actions of others and, thus, begins to fit in. The dancing is comical and genius as Edward often mocks those who slight him by cheekily aggrandizing the stereotypical actions of others. For instance, when the daughter of his host family, Kim Boggs (Ashley Straw) falls in love with Edward, her preppy jock boyfriend is distraught (Tom Clark) and as he flees the scene he walks in an exaggerated macho style that is typically expected from such a character, which Edward cleverly mocks.
The dancing is often tongue-in-cheek and stirs the audience into laughter, the lack of dialogue does not prove to be a barrier as the music animates the characters and gives them freedom to perform the dancing to its full effectiveness. The character performed by Madeleine Brennan – Mrs Monroe – is shown to attempt to seduce Edward while her husband is outside battling with the uncooperative lawnmower. The scene feels like a cartoon caricature that encompasses the cheeky humour of the show.
North alternates with Liam Mower in performing the superb but ultimately misunderstood misfit that is the boy with scissors for hands. The portrayal of the character is humorous, emotionally fulfilling as well as heart-breaking. The duality of character created within Edward shows him to be a misconstrued protagonist who, despite his difference in appearance, tries to be accepted into the kinship of the fifties suburban town, which he achieves by finding a hidden talent for trimming bushes into delightful characters, which is later morphs into a quirky hairstyling service.
Despite the tragic undertones of the ending, the couple – Edward and Kim – seal their whimsical love story with an impassioned kiss to the appreciative roar and applauding of the audience as it begins to snow. The winter wonderland ending is memorable and emotionally fulfilling.