EDWARD SCISSORHANDS – Theatre Royal Plymouth

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21 November 2023

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5*****

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For those who know the film, the creation of a dance version of ‘Edward Scissorhands’ might seem odd, impossible to pull off… but when you are dealing with the genius of Sir Matthew Bourne, nothing is off limits. Not revived for 9 years, his 2005 show is back on the road. Please, dear reader, do yourself a favour, offer a friend an unforgettable experience – buy two tickets and go and see it.

Rarely have I heard an audience so mesmerised and quiet throughout a show. Rarely have I heard crowds cheer at the interval curtain – and this is not because the show was awful. As theatrical entertainments go, this is as good as it gets.

This clever adaptation of the 1990 film from a story by Tim Burton who also directed the film, with a screenplay by Caroline Thompson,  is full of every joy you may recall from the movie. This is such a Matthew Bourne story, a fantasy full of heart, of love and comedy gold and it is an utter triumph.

As an elderly lady tells a story of the creation of Edward by an old inventor, we follow his progress as an outsider in a ‘fantasy’ town stuck somewhere between the 1960s and 1980s. But Edward only has huge scissors for hands which creates so many issues for him. While he manages to use his disadvantage for the good and for the entertainment of the townsfolk, when he falls in love, they become a hindrance too far.

There is undeniably something of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ within the story but it lives and stands alone quite ably.

I adored the original film soundtrack by Danny Elfman, with it’s beautiful, sweeping themes and quirky jazzy feel, here it accompanies the dancing with ease, arranged wonderfully and enhanced with new music by Terry Davies. The mix of the original with a bluesy, big band vibe is a great joy.

As you would expect, the sets are glorious. Lez Brotherston doesn’t put a step wrong; his sense of space and colour offers so much to the eye. From the tiny neat houses on the hillside to the ice sculpture, all are spot on. Likewise the costumes; the many shades and period feel, the extraordinary dancing topiary – have you even seen anything like it? Awesome!

A soundscape starts the show and throughout it plays a major part of the production and Paul Groothuis doesn’t hold back with a richness to the music and effects. The lighting of Howard Harrison is sharp, inventive and hugely atmospheric; another joy. Likewise the projections of Duncan McLean. Matthew Bourne always has a good team – no, a brilliant team – around him; this show is no different. The audience is being spoilt.

Throughout, Matthew Bourne’s choreography shines; always inventive, the mix of styles and genres sit side by side with such ease and the performers soak up the words of their inspirational director and deliver again and again.

Then to the cast. With a mix of the highly experienced and the up and coming, one can only imagine that they have fun. With a strong narrative to the story, it is the acting that impresses as much as the dancing. The various families that live in the town of Hope Springs are all individual; when the stage is full, it is difficult to know where to look, there is so much going on. Each unit has its own tale and multiple viewings of the show is required to take everything in. From the Boggs family; the perfect quartet, headed by Peg Boggs (Kerry Brown) who first befriends Edward and whose daughter, Kim (Katrina Lyndon) provides Edward’s love interest, to the Gaibrights, the sassy male couple (Edwin Ray and James Lovell) with two kids and a new baby strapped to Daddy’s chest, and then there is the vampish Joyce Monroe (Stephanie Billers) and her little, nerdy husband (an hilarious Luke Murphy). The unrequited love between Edward and Kim, exacerbated by her bully of a boyfriend Jim (Ben Brown) is so poignant.

And then there is Edward himself. It is doubtful you will see a better stage performance than that offered by Liam Mower; performing with the most extraordinary arm extensions, he captures the innocence, the wit and comedy, the hurt, the pathos…..every emotion going. His face is so expressive; he will make you smile, laugh and well up. Oh, and he dances like a dream; the duet with Kim in the cemetery is a thing of great beauty. It is a privilege to see this majestic dancer perform.

The older lady from the start returns at the end and the story of an outsider, a misfit and an impossible love comes full circle.

I must stop, for fear of writing a short novel…. suffice to say the show is, indeed, an unforgettable experience and one which has left me deeply happy to have witnessed.

Edward Scissorhands is a supreme theatrical achievement on every level.

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Cast & Creatives

Edward Scissorhands – Liam Mower

Peg Boggs – Kerry Biggin

Bill Boggs – Dominic North

Kim Boggs – Katrina Lyndon

Kevin Boggs – Xavier Andriambolanoro Sotiya

Joyce Monroe – Stephanie Billers

George Monroe – Luke Murphy

Bunny Monroe – Holly Saw

Gerald Monroe – Aristide Lyons

Charity Upton – Christina Gibbs

Mayor Franklyn Upton III – Glenn Graham

Darlene Upton – Carrie Willis

James ‘Jim’ Upton – Ben Brown

Esmerelda Evercreech – Mami Tomotani

Rev Judas Evercreech – Reece Causton

Marilyn-Ann Evercreech – Molly Shaw-Downe

Gabriel Evercreech – Nikolas Shikkis

Tiffany Covitt – Nicole Kabera

Brad Covitt – Barnaby Quarendon

Candy Covitt – Anna-Marie de Freitas

Chase Covitt – Perreira Jesus-Franque

Ryan Gaibright – Edwin Ray

Todd Gaibright – James Lovell

Sandra Gaibright – Savannah Ffrench

The Inventor – Glenn Graham

Little Edward – Xavier Andriambolanoro Sotiya

Old Kim – Kerry Biggin

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Devised by, Direction and Choreography – Matthew Bourne

New Music and Arrangements – Terry Davies

Based on original music – Danny Elfman

Original story – Tim Burton

Original screenplay, story and co-adaptation – Caroline Thompson

Set and Costume Design – Lez Brotherston

Lighting Design – Howard Harrison

Sound Design – Paul Groothuis

Projection Design – Duncan McLean

Image – Johan Persson

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