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Theatre Review: Matthew Bourne’s ‘The Red Shoes’ (Tour)

A mesmerising spectacular foray into an all-consuming passion.

THE RED SHOES by Bourne, , Choreographer and Director – Mathew Bourne, Designer – Lez Brotherstoni, Lighting – Paule Constable, Plymouth, 2019, Credit: Johan Persson/

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes has been performed since 2016. The original film from 1948 is based upon Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. This production is an enthralling ballet that follows the highs and lows of Victoria Page’s (Ashley Shaw) journey as she follows the sirens’ call of dancing and the love of Julian Craster, a composer (Harrison Dowzell) and Boris Lermontov the Ballet impresario (Reece Causton). Victoria is drawn to both men through their shared passion for art. The story details the tumultuous journey Victoria takes as she struggles with her love for Julian Craster and the pull of artistic success with Boris Lermontov. The red ballet shoes are prominent throughout the ballet and the lure of them is irresistible. Victoria manages to resist the lure of artistic achievement for some time, but the angst and conflict this causes between her and Julian is devastating.

The costumes are contemporary outfits and float and twirl beautifully around the dancers. The power and passion of the dances involved is clearly demonstrated throughout the show. This ballet is a bold production, the use of the sumptuous stage setting is skillful as the theatre arch revolves and shows both sides of the theatre curtain. This gives us a different perspective on the same space or problem that Victoria encounters as it represented the flip side of the choices that she made for love over her passion for dance.

There were lots of comedic touches that had the audience laughing, the scenes moved quickly creating bold ballet that captures the audience in the thrall of Victoria’s triangle of passion. The dancers displayed a gamut of feelings; hope, love, passion, despair, temptation, the contrast between these sensations was mirrored in the tenderness and vibrancy of the ballet. This is a show that should not be missed!

Five stars: Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes is running at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until 8th February 2020


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