Last night I went to the Liverpool Empire to watch The Red Shoes, a Matthew Bourne ballet based on the 1948 Powell and Pressburger movie, itself a spin-off from a Hans Christian Andersen story.
For those of you unfamiliar with Sir Matthew Bourne OBE, he is widely hailed as the UK’s most popular and successful choreographer and director. His Swan Lake production in 1995 is perhaps still best known for replacing the female corps-de-ballet with a menacing male ensemble and it took the dance world by storm. We have at Mini Travellers also recently enjoyed his Cinderella re-invention which is Cinderella like you’ve never seen before.
However back to The Red Shoes. In The Red Shoes the story follows an aspiring dancer – Victoria Page (played by Ashley Shaw) – as she leaps into the limelight to become a coveted principal in the company. Victoria is obsessed by dance but falls in love along the way. Victoria Page lives to dance but her ambitions be-come a battleground between the two men who inspire her passion
Eventually Victoria leaves with Julian Craster to avoid the attentions of ballet impressario Boris Lermontov. Yet the red shoes draw her back and as life imitates art, her obsession and ultimate downfall follows the story of the ballet in which she just starred,
There are many many highlights within The Red Shoes, too many to mention. The costumes, the music, the use of the set throughout, are all extraordinary, as are of course the dancers who you simply can’t take your eyes off.
The overseas trips to Monte Carlo and the French Riviera whilst perhaps unnecessary to the story add joy, and we just loved the dark victorian street scenes. The dancers movement so clever, so contemporary, so sharp.
At 2 hours long including the interval, the Red Shoes moves at a pace, and the ending does if I’m honest feel a little rushed. But the performance deserved every moment of the standing ovation it received, and Matthew Bourne, apparently in the audience that night, must have soaked up every moment of the crowds praise.
Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes is currently touring the UK and is on at the Liverpool Empire until Saturday 29th April – tickets are still available.