You don’t need to know Tim Burton’s film Edward Scissorhands to follow Matthew Bourne’s stage production: Bourne is a natural storyteller, who never leaves his audience behind. He even includes a prologue: as a boy, Edward is struck by lightning while playing with scissors; his grief-stricken father, an inventor, later reanimates his stitched-together body, leaving him with scissor blades instead of fingers. The Frankenstein parallels are apt: this is a story about a man-made creature whose flawed humanity is no fault of his own, but whom a community eventually turn upon.
But Edward Scissorhands is more fable than horror story. Lez Brotherston’s splendid set designs counterpoises two worlds: the gothic gloom where Edward is created, and the sunny suburbia of identical lawns and houses into which he stumbles. Edward (Dominic North) is taken in by kindly mother-figure Mrs Boggs (Etta Murfitt), who lets him stay in her daughter’s vacant room. Little Miss Boggs may be absent but her pinkness and pertness are everywhere, and Edward is soon lulled to sleep by a vision of love: cheerleaders, waving pink pompoms.
As Edward learns to use his hands – trimming hedges and hair – he gains confidence and status among the townsfolk. But at heart, this is a tale of Edward’s love for Kim Boggs (Kerry Biggin). At first it is fantasy – represented, marvellously, by a duet among dancing topiary. Later, it is more real and risky: Edward’s touch is dangerous to those he is close to.
That is the fable’s bitter pill. But the cartoonish characters, colourful costumes, musical set pieces and wealth of incident provide plenty of sugar coating – and fluffy filling. Too much, really: Bourne seems so involved with telling us the details of the story that, ironically, we sometimes lose touch with the plot.