REVIEW The Red Shoes, Birmingham Hippodrome

Sir Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes. Ashley Shaw 'Victoria Page' and Sam Archer 'Boris Lermontov'. Photo by Johan Persson
Photo by Johan Persson

Sir Matthew Bourne knows what he’s doing when it comes to creating stunning theatrical dance productions, only a fool would question that.

So it came as no surprise that his adaptation The Red Shoes once again captured the hearts of the crowd on its opening night at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Let’s make one thing clear, Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes isn’t just a ballet, oh no, it’s so much more than that. If there’s a performance that is the perfect introduction to the world of dance in the theatre then this is it, it doesn’t get better than this.

The fact that Bourne’s company New Adventures’ announced that it would be bringing The Red Shoes back to the Hippodrome later this year is enough to tell you just how good this production is. Of course, challenges come with bringing films to the stage. It takes serious skill to pull off the storyline with such precision, but if anyone was going to do this production justice it had to be Sir Matthew himself.

A 20-year culmination of Bourne’s ambition to bring Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 classic to the stage, The Red Shoes follows the journey of heroin Victoria Page, whose ambition in life is to become a dancer.

After she’s spotted by ballet impresario Boris Lermontov, she lands herself a role in The Red Shoes, where she meets and falls in love with composer Julian Craster. But there’s just one problem, Victoria is left with a choice between love and dance, leading her down a path of pain and tragedy.

Watching New Adventures’ production is like a breath of fresh air; the set and costume design by Lez Brotherston is nothing short of spectacular as the audience is transported from a grotty-looking dance studio to the picturesque sights of Monte Carlo.

The Red Shoes takes no prisoners. From the moment the iconic red curtain lifts you’re sucked into Victoria’s world – you feel her every emotion, share each element of her experience with great depth.

Set changes were as smooth and sharp as one would expect from a New Adventures’ show, and Brotherston certainly didn’t hold back on creating the wow factor that took the production up an extra notch.

The Red Shoes was completed with the company’s incredible dancers; nothing could prepare the crowd for the sheer delicacy that they delivered with every movement. As usual, Bourne’s choreography shone, blending classic ballet with contemporary, lindy hop and even hints of comedy.

Taking on the role of Victoria was principal dancer Ashley Shaw, who, I think it’s fair to say blew the audience away with her effortless performance – never have I seen a dancer bring such emotion to a role as Shaw. From jumping into the arms of her fellow dancers to breathtaking solos, Shaw took on Victoria’s trails and tribulations with such power that made her part so believable.

High praise must also be given to the spectacular Sam Archer who took on the role of Boris Lermontov and Chris Trentfield who didn’t hold back with his performance of Julian Craster.

Breathtaking, emotional and show-stopping, Sir Matthew Bourne has gone and done it again. The Red Shoes is a faultless, triumphant production that will captivate your heart and soul and I for one cannot wait to see it again when it returns to the Hippodrome this July.

Bravo New Adventures, you win again. It’s five stars from me.

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until this Saturday and returns on Wednesday July 19 – Saturday July 22. 

 

 

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