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Review: Edward Scissorhands (Wales Millennium Centre) 2024

Photo by Johan Persson

I have always been oddly fascinated by Tim Burton’s 1990 classic Edward Scissorhands, so I’m delighted to see that it’s made its way to the stage in Cardiff.

Its story of accepting and including those who may look different is one that is as old as time, and sadly hasn’t changed much. Although, there are moments of peoples’ heartwarming qualities which are endeering, it is overshadowed by selfish acts and society’s conformity. People are quick to jump on the band wagon when the going is good, but fall foul and get cast aside like poor Edward just as fast. Edward Scissorhands highlights the importance of ‘touch’ when it comes to relationship building and how something we take for granted as we do so of many things, can create a barrier to connect. A challenge that may be, though not impossible as Edward shows.

As a fan of film, I struggled to see how this could be told through ballet, especially when in parts there is almost silence in the auditorium. However, I fully hold my hands up and applaud Sir Matthew Bourne for being able to convey Edward’s story in just that, one which isn’t too dissimilar to the original screenplay. You must remember that dance is extremely expressive, more so with ballet with its arm positions that give a sense of purpose and meaning with every action.

Edward Scissorhands’ story has a number of complexieties from the mix of emotions of the professor (Edward’s creator) passing away, to the acceptance of society or lack of, and the love and warmth shown by Peg Boggs. There is also the ill-fated twist of a relationship that Edward has with Kim Boggs. Yes, there is sadness, anger, worry and the occassional happiness to contend with. However, what I wasn’t expecting was finding myself laughing out loud and joining in with the audience during a number of hysterical moments. How often does that happen in a ballet?

Photo by Johan Persson

‘Edwardo the Barber’ is certainly up there with the comedic moments. It isn’t easy creating silent comedy, but Bourne has mastered it with every slice and dice.

On the production side of things, the essence of Tim Burton is never too far away. The set design, especially the video animation with  words seemingly appear and disappearing in front of your eyes at the start is a nice touch. The balance of Lez Brotherston’s scenery is spot on, so not to distract but to accentuate, and to add to the overall ambience of the show. It’s not just the physical set that makes a show, the entire production including Howard Harrison’s seamless lighting design. A special mention must go to Duncan McLean’s breathtaking video and projection design.

Photo by Johan Persson

Bourne’s choreography is exceptional throughout, but a stand out moment for me is the ice dance scene between Edward and Kim. It is simply magical and is captured in a way that is better than the film, I’d say. I won’t spoil it, but they even go far as to break the elusive ‘fourth wall’ to make you feel a part of it at the end.

Liam Mower truly showed his brillance performing the role of Edward on opening night, and what an act to follow he will be with the role of Edward changing from performance to performance. Not the first taking on the role – he’s performed it since 2014 – he embodies the awkward physicality and mystified expression Edward is so well known for. When thinking of the awkwardness in which Edward moves, and trying to marry up the image of ballet it’s quite difficult to picture. It seems implausible to work, ballet is fluid, intricate and delicate, not words you use to describe Edward Scissorhands. Mower brings a softness to the role that truly express the character’s emotions, you connect and empathise with him. A great lead dancer, Ashley Shaw’s Kim exudes delicacy and grace in every step she takes.

Photo by Johan Persson

The cast for this show exudes talent, from the hystierical Gaibrights, to the macabre Evercreechs each individual family has it’s own personality through dance. The scence that fully encompasses this is the car scene, I won’t give too much away you can tell a lot about someone by the way they drive a car.

I did say that there are moments of silent theatre, but I didn’t tell you about the original motion score composed by Danny Elfman. If you’ve seen the film, you will remember its captivating soundtrack with its chillingly yet mystical musical notes and wooing. The introduction title and ice dance are personal favourites of mine.

So it ends as it began, cloaked in mystery and sadness. Is Edward still up there at the mansion?

Edward Scissorhands is a masterwork by Bourne; it’s thought provoking, witty, and visually stunning. It serves as a testament to how works can be moved from the screen to the stage.

Age guidance: 8+ (no under 2s)
May contain strobe lighting and loud bangs

Start time:
Tue – Sat 7.30pm
Thu & Sat 2.30pm

Running time: Approximately 1 hour 55 minutes (including a 20 minute interval)

Edward Scissorhands is showing at the Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday, 23rd March.

For tickets and pricing information, please visit The WMC website here.