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posted/updated: 11 Mar 2020 -
The Red Shoes
Based on the film by MICHAEL POWELL and EMERIC PRESSBURGER and the HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN fairytale. Music by BERNARD HERRMANN. Produced by Matthew Bourne.
society/company: New Wimbledon Theatre (professional) (directory)
performance date: 10 Mar 2020
venue: New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QG
reviewer/s: Diana Eccleston (Sardines review)

Photos: Johan Persson


As with all his productions, Sir Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes has been a thunderous success wherever it has played. Created in 2016, it was the culmination of a twenty-year ambition to recreate the 1948 movie of the same name (which starred Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook and Robert Helpmann) for the stage.

Bourne's realisation won a clutch of awards and Wimbledon's audience gave it a standing ovation on Tuesday evening.

I cannot praise him enough. Sitting modesty in the stalls, this is the genius who, in my view, has done more than anyone - ever - to introduce dance to the majority where once it was an elitist entertainment. Everyone can relate to his masterpieces.

A hugely talented company do credit to Bourne's constantly imaginative choreography, which includes some wonderful and welcome interludes of comedy. I loved the expressions of the bored women at the posh soiree, not to mention the hilarious Egyptian sand dance duo.

Costumes, settings and lighting all play their vital parts in this superb show.
The irresistible lure of dance is at the heart of The Red Shoes. Just like the girl in the nightmarish Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, Victoria Page is a ballerina who cannot stop dancing - like the character she portrays in the ballet within a ballet. Her art is more important to her than either of the men who love her.

The action moves seamlessly to and fro between London and Monte Carlo (where we get a gorgeously silly beach scene with guys dancing with giant beach balls) but the highlight comes when Victoria is swept along by her red shoes to dance night and day through wind and weather until she can dance no more.

Leading roles are shared from performance to performance, but this is such a classy company everyone deserves a mention! Precision is second to none and every little nuance and gesture speaks a thousand words.

The music too is wonderful, drawn from a variety of sources in tribute to the era (1940s) in which the story is set. The Red Shoes doesn't pack the same emotional punch for me as Swan Lake, but it is a must-see for any dance lover.

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