When a show breaks box office records and returns to a theatre for an unprecedented second week audiences can be forgiven for having high expectations.
So when Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes arrived back at the Birmingham Hippodrome last night (Tuesday) after its first sell-out visit I expected to be in for a treat. Especially as the renowned choreographer and director is widely revered as the high priest of originality. What I didn’t expect was to be moved to the core.
The Red Shoes is a powerful tale of possession and obsession based on the classic 1948 Powell and Pressburger film and Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. It follows one girl, Victoria Page, who dreams of becoming the greatest dancer in the world.
But she is torn between the two men who inspire her passion – composer Julia Craster, who she loves and company director Boris Lermontov, who expects her utter devotion.
Ashley Shaw is captivating as Victoria. She dances exquisitely and it is easy to see why she has won a National Dance Award for the role.
Paule Constable’s lighting and Lez Brotherston’s imaginative cinematic designs add to the powerful drama, which at times leaves you feeling as if you’re caught up in a silent movie.
Especially as The Red Shoes is set to the romantic music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, beautifully orchestrated for this show by Terry Davies. At the end of the performance Matthew Bourne himself appeared on stage and answered questions from the audience.
He praised the Hippodrome as one of the best theatres in the country. He should know. He’s been staging his productions there for more than 20 years. This double Olivier award-winning show deserves all the accolades it gets. Go and see it if you get the chance. You don’t need an excuse. But if you do there’s always Valentine’s Day on Friday.
The Red Shoes is at the Hippodrome until Saturday February 15.
Tickets cost from £22. For tickets, click here.