A ballet within a ballet is hard to adapt for the theatre but Matthew Bourne’s new stage production of The Red Shoes smashed it.
Following the Hans Christian Andersen 1845 fairytale of sin and vanity, this production still relates to a modern day audience, portraying a lust for fame and a hunger so deep that the characters are willing to die for their art.
An aspiring dancer, Victoria Page, is given her big break and becomes the lead role in a new production called The Red Shoes. She falls in love with the composer who has also just begun his career too. The director finds out about their relationship and makes them choose between their love for each other or the love of their art, and although they choose to stay together, this becomes challenging as the desire for creating takes over. This plot mimics ‘The Red Shoes’ plot within the production they created, where Victoria’s character wears a pair of enchanted red ballet shoes. Unable to take them off she can’t stop dancing and ends up dying for her art.
Victoria, played by Ashley Shaw, was perfect for the part. Through amazing choreography and graceful movements she floated effortlessly across the stage and I was able to interpret every emotion she was experiencing as her character. She was sensational. I adored the ‘Cheap Digs’ scene where Victoria and her lover Julian Craster played by Chris Trenfield had an almighty fight, it was so emotional and beautifully presented. The use of the set’s stage curtain throughout this scene was very poignant.
The whole cast gave an amazing high energy performance and the choreography was so complex I couldn’t believe the human body was capable of moving in such ways.
The absence of an orchestra did not upset the production, in fact the opposite. The clever use of the music with the dance moves created emotion and narrative to enhance the show and give a full sensory experience.
You really do need to see this performance while it graces the Lyceum’s stage until June 3. Even if you are not a fan of ballet, you would still love this.