Goth man-child Tim Burton (with writer Caroline Thompson) created
the cult film Edward Scissorhands, forever memorable
for its childlike magical wonder. The decision to transition from
screen to stage could only work with someone as in tune with childhood
beauty and fantasy. Matthew Bourne, cult leader in his own right
(from such innovative takes on “Swan Lake” and “The
Nutcracker”), is the perfect choice. Both artists identify
with the societal problems of being brilliant but different and
their creative ingenuity match nicely.
those unfamiliar with the story, Edward Scissorhands (Richard
Winsor) is a boy with scissors for hands, created by an inventor
as a companion in his old age. When his mentor dies, he is forced
to fend for himself and discovers a retro-1950’s suburban
heaven outside his dark castle.
Initially fearful of each other, Edward and the neighbors learn
to co-exist, in no small part due to the acceptance of one of
the prominent families, the Boggs. As an added bonus, Edward falls
for their teenage daughter Kim (Kerry Biggin), and eventually
wins her over. Meanwhile, Edward becomes the popular local hair
stylist, at last finding one use for his talented scissorhands.
His fearful nightmare appearance hides a fragile and vulnerable
heart and it is this juxtaposition that makes the story so interesting.
Kim’s boyfriend Jim (Adam Gabraith) is one of the people
who misunderstands him, ultimately causing a series of disastrous
usual, director/choregrapher Bourne uses no dialogue, relying
instead on the emotion of the music and the passion of the dancers.
The ensemble is strong, especially the two leads, Richard Winsor
and Kerry Biggin, and their supporting cast delves delightfully
into Bourne’s amazing choreography. Lez Brotherston’s
set and costumes are a visual feast, with vibrant colors and fantastical
shapes of hedges and landscaped manicured houses. Bourne’s
trademark humor shows in many ways; for instance, in one scene
the dancers walk in and out of tiny set houses. Terry Davies (“A
Play Without Words”) maintains the musical integrity of
Danny Elfman’s film score, while adding his own appropriate
jazzy style. Also, Howard Harrison’s lighting sets the mood
evenly between dark and light and in the end we even get snow.
Burton’s essential cinematic story remains the same, from
the old woman “narrator” to the man-eating husband
stealer. Not only is it a modern fairy tale, but also a microcosm
of social stereotypes. Edward, with his awkward appendages, is
the least able to physically touch anyone but the most able to
reach people with his heart. The rest of the townspeople don’t
seem to learn this in the end with the exception of a few - so
like life. Edward retires to his empty castle, leaving the others
to wonder about him from time to time. Kim, of course, is profoundly
changed, and becomes his guardian angel in the end.
film and the play may be of different styles, but are alike in
their touching tale of humanity. And both hold the essential appeal
of a storybook romance. Plus Bourne's "Edward Scissorhands"
is a great holiday event and appeals to all audiences, drawing
a younger, newer crowd to Los Angeles theater, which is never
a bad thing.