Review: Matthew Bourne’s ‘The Red Shoes’

By Megan Potterton

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes returns to the Theatre Royal Plymouth this week, giving audiences in the city a second chance to experience the magic, colour and awe of this triumphant production.

An award-winning adaptation of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s film (and the Hans Cristian Andersen fairy-tale), The Red Shoes is ‘a tale of obsession, possession and one girl’s dream to be the greatest dancer in the world’. The powerful force of dance and its ability to take over everything in a dancer’s life lie at the heart of this ballet, and Matthew Bourne’s ability to portray love, destruction and real emotion through his award-winning choreography creates a production that will leave its audiences simultaneously in love and heart broken as the curtains close.

The talented cast are, of course, to thank for this. In advance of this production’s run, Matthew Bourne said, ‘I’m thrilled that for the for first revival of our 2016 hit, The Red Shoes, most of the original leading cast will be returning, including Ashley Shaw in her multi award-winning performance as Victoria Page.’ Ashley Shaw beautifully portrays her character; each and every movement she makes wonderfully depicts Victoria Page’s overwhelming emotions. Shaw and the rest of the cast are talented storytellers as well as dancers, making it incredibly easy to become caught up in the narratives of their characters.

The aspects of this production that make the most impact, aside from Bourne’s beautiful choreography, are his exceptional use of light and sound. Of course, music is crucial in any ballet, but Bourne uses sound in a truly original way. He is not afraid of sudden loud noises, moments of silence or using music for comedic effect. When this original use of sound is combined with truly exceptional, and often cinematic, staging, you cannot help but be struck by the hard work and talent that has gone into every aspect of this production.

If you have not had a chance to watch one of Matthew Bourne’s ballets before, now is the time to do so. The Red Shoes impacted me in a way that dance has not previously done, and I found myself very quickly caught up in the story and its characters. Matthew Bourne creates ballet that is both accessible and modern, making The Red Shoes the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the powerful storytelling nature of dance.

You can buy tickets for Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes at the Theatre Royal Plymouth here:

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