Dance review: Edward Scissorhands, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

First seen in 2005, Matthew Bourne’s adaptation of the classic Tim Burton movie still looks as fresh as ever, writes Kelly Apter

Edward Scissorhands, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh *****

Almost 35 years after cinema audiences first fell in love with the sharp-fingered boy of Tim Burton’s imagination, Edward Scissorhands continues to make a play for our hearts. In fact, even without the cinematic close-ups of Johnny Depp’s confused and lovelorn face, the character still evokes empathy. In this dance version, a tilt of the head, slice of the blades or momentary pause are enough to convey a myriad of emotions that echo right to the back of the auditorium.

Matthew Bourne first transported Edward from celluloid to stage back in 2005, but his stage adaptation still looks as fresh as ever. His decision to place the action in the 1950s (rather than 1980s, as the film does) allowed designer Lez Brotherston to go to town on the colourful chalet-style houses and stylish costumes. It also plays nicely into stereotypical clichés of that era, with each family (and their teenage offspring in particular) falling squarely into an archetype: the sporty jocks; the social climbers; the religious zealots; the “nice” family; the town vamp. Included for the first time in this updated production, we also have same-sex parents with a newborn.

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Edward Scissorhands PIC: Johan PerssonEdward Scissorhands PIC: Johan Persson
Edward Scissorhands PIC: Johan Persson

Brotherston’s design is the gift that keeps on giving, as we go from a spooky tower on the edge of town, to a community barbeque, a teenage bedroom and a lavish Christmas ball. Particular mention goes to the witty yet beautiful dancing topiary and hilarious spiky wigs sported by the townsfolk. The long-running collaborative genius of Bourne and Brotherston, complemented here by Terry Davies’ superb arrangements of Daniel Elfman’s original score, make this show a hit from the start.

Bourne imbues all his characters with three-dimensional emotional integrity, and by inviting back previous New Adventures dancers to work alongside young, upcoming talent, he ensures the family dynamics feel genuine. And such is the beauty and poignancy of the ending, dry eyes are not an option.

Until 18 May