Festival Theatre Edinburgh (venue)
09 May 2017 (released)
12 May 2017
It might help just a little if you are familiar with the original 1948 Powell & Pressburger film version when it comes to seeing this awe-inspiring ballet production of The Red Shoes but worry not, it is far from a pre-requisite. Award winning director/choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne OBE triumphs yet again! This production has plenty going for it and Bourne decided to shelve Brian Easedale's original score and instead draw the music mainly from American composer Bernard Herrman's film scores.
The story's main protagonist is ambitious dancer Vicky Page and it is perhaps no coincidence that classically trained Ashley Shaw bares considerable resemblance to Moira Shearer – the ballerina of the 1948 movie. Vicky finds herself tragically torn between her love for struggling composer Julian Craster (Dominic North) and her allegiance to all-demanding and domineering impresario Boris Lermontov (Sam Archer). He is the kind of man who believes that you cannot be a great artist if distracted by human love. Unfortunately this is a maxim that proves to have dire consequences for Vicky. Through various segments we witness her gradual rise to fame after Lermantov’s celebrated prima ballerina Irina Boronskaja (Anjali Mehra) injures her foot during training and Vicky gets her unexpected chance. However, her fame actually comes about when the Devil in disguise hands her a pair of red ballet shoes…as it turns out the shoes have a will of their own and force her to dance, dance, dance wherever she goes. Suffice to say, deals with the devil never tend to work out well though this New Adventures Production is nowhere near as moralizing in its message as the original fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen.
Theatregoers will doubtlessly have their own favourite segments and there are so many thrilling and entertaining ones on offer like Lady Neston’s Soiree, the Ballet of THE RED SHOES, the End-of-Season-Party in Villefrance-Sur-Mer, or the brilliantly executed Concerto Macabre sequence. We also get some humour too with the London East End Music Hall segment during which a highly comic turn is thrown in for good measure when two dancers pay tribute to top 1930's act Wilson, Keppel and Betty and perform the hilarious ‘Sand Dance’.
The performances are top notch and utterly flawless – each and every one of the dancers graces the stage with their perfect physique and ballet skills, lead by an exuberant Ashley Shaw. Equally impressive is the lighting by Paule Constable and the clever sets and fantastic costumes by Lez Brotherson – in particular the multi-functional rotating arch. This dazzling production is a triumph beginning to end!
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