A Gothic delight: Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands

Sadler’s Wells, London
December 13, 2023

In short, Matthew Bourne’s production of Edward Scissorhands is just about perfect. The production, inspired by Tim Burton’s 1990 Gothic film and featuring the hauntingly beautiful music of Danny Elfman and Terry Davies, trumps both The Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet’s traditional Christmas Nutcrackers. It is a Christmas fairytale like no other.

Bourne’s New Adventures company of 36 performers dance superbly. But they can act as well. And in this production, that is absolutely key.

The story is a take on Frankenstein, with a young boy being killed by a lightening strike while holding scissors. Years later, his father recreates him as a life-sized doll. Using scissors taped to where his hands should be to act as a conduit for lightning, he supercharges the doll Edward to life but is then killed by a group of marauding teenagers before he has time to replace the scissors with hands.

Glenn Graham (Inventor) and Liam Mower (Edward) in Edward Scissorhands
Photo Johan Persson

Edward, now superficially alive, is taken in by a middle-American family living in a small town, and treated like an all-American hero. Edward gets the idea, and tries to live the American dream, falling in love, using his scissor hands in anger, and eventually destroying himself to save what he loves most.

While all the dancers merit individual mentions, leading the way is Liam Mower, dancing Edward. His acting skills are to be envied. He brings real raw emotion, pathos, humour, confusion, and a deep sadness to the role. The audience live every moment with him.

Katrina Lyndon matches him well, with her totally believable portrayal of Kim Boggs, the girl Edward falls for.

There are times when the dancers are engaged in pure Uta Hagen method, which asks performers to consider themselves, their qualities and what they can bring to a role from within. It’s something rarely seen so prominent in dance.

Bourne’s chorography is hugely imaginative. It comes together with Lez Brotherston’s set and costumes, and Howard Harrison’s lighting with a confidence and ease. The trio combine to give the work a surreal touch to the narrative that sometimes has your hair standing on end.

Everything about Edward Scissorhands is right. Go, go, go!

Edward Scissorhands is at Sadler’s Wells to January 20, 2024, then touring.