The Red Shoes at Pleasance Courtyard - Pleasance Beyond is a well scripted and well performed re-imagining by London based “Young Pleasance” of Hans Christian Andersen's classic, and very dark and macabre fairy tale. We follow the orphaned Lotta from her birth in a Catholic orphanage in 1911, through the Berlin Cabaret days and the rise of the Nazi Party to just prior to the outbreak of war in Europe in 1938. The only possession that Lotta has been left to her by her dead mother is a pair of Red Shoes. Who is the possessor though and who is the possession,that is the big question here.
As our “Faustian” story unfolds, we meet Lotta at three stages in her life – young, teenage and older woman, and the use of three different performers for each Lotta not only gets round the issue of having to age a character, but it gives us three very different versions of Lotta.
This version of The Red Shoes draws its imagery from many sources, but most evident to me are two classic films – The Blue Angel from 1930 starring Marlene Dietrich and Cabaret from 1972 starring Liza Minnelli. To add some depth to the story we have a classic love triangle between Lotta, Jacob and Franz and the polarisation of characters as Jacob is Jewish and Franz is a supporter of the Nazi Party. German/Jewish politics of the period play out against the background of economic collapse and hyper-inflation.
It is always difficult to review youth theatre as there is always going to be a spread of performance abilities on stage, and this production is no different to any others in that respect. You have to balance this always though by the fact that performers learn their craft by being on stage – there is no other way to do it. With that in mind, I always try to review youth theatre productions as “collaborative productions” and not single any one performer out.
The Red Shoes is a tight, well scripted, well performed piece of theatre, and yes, some small areas could be tightened up and improved upon, but that is experience that the company here will only get by performing in front of an audience.
Everything about this company is professional down to one much appreciated, but often overlooked detail at The Fringe, someone handing out cast and production credits to you as you go into the show. As a reviewer, details like this are always appreciated, and I am sure others in the audience appreciate the information too.
Review by Tom King
The Red Shoes
Pleasance Courtyard - Pleasance Beyond
Country: United Kingdom - England
Group: Young Pleasance