Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes The Festival Theatre Edinburgh Review Tuesday 9th May 2017


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. 

Matthew Bourne's productions always take us into a magical land, with sumptuous costumes and wonderful stage sets, and The Red Shoes lives up to all expectations.  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 style costumes.

Of course, the main element of any ballet is the dancers, and all members of the company gave an exceptional performance.  Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page moved seamlessly from the young ingĂ©nue 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 work.  With The Red Shoes, he has created another classic.

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


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