Bewitching, beguiling and beautiful.. a stunning masterpiece.
Sir Matthew Bourne has redefined the world of Ballet and his 2019 touring production of the ‘The Red Shoes’ (initially based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale and later turned into a 1984 film) spares no expense in its production, both in terms of visuals and emotion.
The story tells of a young ballerina whose life is destroyed by a pair of Red Shoes, that once put on, will not allow the wearer to stop dancing. Later in the show she must choose between the love of a man and her love of dance.
I had neither seen the film, or the previous production and I was unsure as to whether the lack of talking would cause me a problem but this was certainly not the case. This production has everything. Transporting you from comedic highs, through to the final tear inducing lows of the shows final moments.
Without a doubt this show owes its success to the incredibly talented dancers but special praise must also go to the mesmerising costumes and incredible Lez Brotherston sets. Taking centre stage is a two-sided proscenium that moves up and down and revolves around the stage, transporting the audience both forwards and backwards, behind the scenes of the backstage world of the ballet. My highlights included a fabulous end-of-season party at Villefranche-Sur-Mer and two hugely entertaining Egyptian sand dancers. And of course, the incomparable Red Shoes Ballet.
I can’t discuss how unmissable this production is without mentioning the mesmerising Ashley Shaw who plays Victoria Page. Ashley originated the role when the show first premiered in 2016 and she perfectly captures the young woman who is torn between following her love of dance or the man she loves. Her performance dragged me on a rollercoaster of emotions. No small feat for a production solely based in dance and in the immortal words of Norma Desmond “With one look I can break your heart”. Ashley certainly does that.
Reviewed by Neil Mcfarlane
Photo: Johan Persson