Matthew Bourne's "The
Red Shoes" opened in Edinburgh last night to
a capacity audience at the Festival Theatre.
Based on the Hans
Christian Andersen fairy tale and the 1948
film of the same name, The Red Shoes tells
the story of a young dancer, Victoria Page,
whose ambition is to be the greatest
ballerina in the world.
However, when she falls in love with
Julian Craster, a struggling composer with
the ballet company, she faces the dilemma of
having to choose between dance and love.
productions always take us into a magical
land, with sumptuous costumes and wonderful
stage sets, and The Red Shoes lives up to
It features a "ballet within a
ballet", and makes clever use of a rotating
proscenium arch on stage to make the move
from us being the audience watching the
ballet, to being backstage with the dancers.
The music for this
production is from various scores by Bernard
Herrmann, arranged by Terry Davies, and much
of it evokes the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Set and costume design, as usual by
Lez Brotherston, was wonderful, with great
use of back projection, and beautiful 1940s
Of course, the main
element of any ballet is the dancers, and
all members of the company gave an
Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page moved
seamlessly from the young ingénue starting
out to the tormented woman whose life had
been taken over by the red shoes.
Sam Archer as Boris Lermontov, ballet
impresario, and Chris Trenfield as Julian
Craster were also outstanding lead dancers.
Matthew Bourne has
built up a well-deserved reputation as a
choreographer and director, but this means
of course he has to live up to this
reputation with each much-anticipated new
With The Red Shoes, he has created
This year is the 30th
anniversary of the company and this
production is a perfect tribute to the
innovation in dance and breath of fresh air
that Matthew Bourne has brought to the stage and
in so doing has completely changed the
public's perceptions of what ballet and
dance can be.
This show is also a tribute to his
love of not only dance, but film, music and
the whole landscape of creative arts.
Review by Lisa Sibbald