New Wimbledon Theatre, London – until 15 April 2017
It’s back to business for those working on Matthew Bourne’s latest hit show The Red Shoes, following its double Olivier Award win on Sunday evening – and what a performance it is. Currently, getting tickets for this show is like gold dust and demand is only going to get higher after the production’s well deserved Olivier Awards wins for Best Entertainment and Best Choreographer.
The Red Shoes is a story filled with passion, obsession and love that makes for a lethal mix for Victoria Page, tearing her apart as her love of dance soon becomes a battleground for two men important in her life. Based on the 1948 film, Matthew Bourne’s exquisitely beautiful choreography and direction for this world premiere production is not only a love letter to dance but also reveals just how well suited the story is for a ballet production to be created out of it.
It is a subtle and graceful production that while the story is ultimately tragic it is tinged with moments of humour that keep the audience feeling engaged – not least at the beginning of the scene set at the music hall in London, filled with choreography that was designed to simply entertain and make audiences laugh – a nice break from the intensity of the story.
Of course, on the surface of it the story is pretty basic and if looked closely pretty unfulfilling, but Bourne has managed to take both the film and the fairy tale and turn it into an engaging piece of work with quite a bit of freedom to give it more depth.
All of the cast beautiful to watch, not least Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page effortlessly moving across the stage with charm and elegance, yet all the while managing to show the character being increasingly torn apart by her career and her personal life. The scene in which she dances at Lady Neston’s Soiree is a particular highlight. But the rest of the cast are equally as strong, with Sam Archer as the chillingly focused and intense Boris Lermontov, the sharpness of his movements by turn are commanding, aggressive and smooth as a predator trying to rein in its prey. Chris Trenfield as Julian Craster also delivers consistently in charm and likeability.
Another key star of the show is the set design by Lez Brotherston, who never fails to remind the audience that it is the stage and ballet that are the heart and soul of the story and the way in which the curtain switches position to take the audience from behind the scene to on stage is extremely imaginative and thoughtfully done.
It probably goes without saying, but this is a production that deserves to be seen time and time again – heartbreaking and tragic in terms of the story, but there is still plenty that will leave you smiling and applauding in terms of the production itself.