Matthew Bourne's ballet is an absolute triumph, says Patricia McNamee. Coming to the New Wimbledon Theatre Apr 11-15. 5 STARS
Ashely Shaw as Victoria Page
Mathew Bourne once again delights us with his imaginative and intoxicating production of this Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Since Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s award winning 1948 film, no one has successfully managed to put this show on the stage ... until now.
The difficulty Mathew said “is to create a sense of the surreal as they did in the film.” One of the greatest strengths of the story is that you are never entirely sure where reality ends and fantasy begins.
The Red Shoes tells a tale of a ballet dancer who aspires to be the very best, and the two men who inspire passion within her; one for dance and the other for romance. Which will she choose? Is it her choice or will the shoes decide? It is a heart-breaking story of obsession, possession and love.
The score by Terry Davies uses music composed by Bernard Herrman, well known for his work with Hitchcock and Orsen Welles. This is an inspired choice, capturing the intensity of the inter-relationships and the struggles between all the characters.
The sets are fantastic, so imaginative, Les Brotherson certainly pulled out all the stops on this one, and Paul Constables lighting added extra impact creating a real sense of the difference between front and back stage, reality and fantasy. The revolve is a work of genius.
The choreography included classical, modern ballet and character dance, this was especially effective in highlighting the various aspects of a dancer’s life, the rigour of the training, the scene with the barre work was so realistic, the tensions between the performers and the impresario Lermontov, Sam Archer captured this to perfection. The Monte Carlo scene highlighted the essence of dancers enjoying their downtime. The amount of work on demi-pointe was refreshing.
I was gripped by the mesmerising movements of the lead dancer Ashley Shaw who perfectly transitioned from the young Victoria Page who wanted to dance to the prima ballerina at the mercy of her art, the dance of her dilemma was spellbinding. The most touching moments of the grave scene were so powerful, as were the movements indicating the effect of the shoes. Ashley really brought the character to life.
Chris Trenfield deserves a mention for his depiction as the struggling composer and the love interest seeking to disentangle Victoria Page (Ashley Shaw) from Ballet Impresario Lermontov (Sam Archer). Michela Miazza was every inch the Prima ballerina, her facial expressions said it all and added an element of comedy.
The costumes were used to great effect from the practice attire to the beach wear in Monte Carlo they conjured up the 1930s and had a real cinematic style to them. The change of costume when Victoria Page is dancing in the Lermontov red shoes is amazing, it was so subtle yet effective.
- Red Shoes is at the New Wimbledon Theatre April 11-15. For tickets visit atgtickets.com
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