Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes Review Bristol Hippodrome:
When you watch Matthew Bourne theatre, it’s like being pulled into a different world in much the same way you are drawn into a good book. It feels like his Cinderella, Swan Lake, Nutcracker!, Beauty and the Beast and The Red Shoes all co-exist exist in the same universe.
That universe is a sumptuous world of visual storytelling that has a wide and accessible appeal. It comes together with a perfect creative team of regulars that includes Paul Groothuis’ sound design, Paule Constable’s lighting design and of course, Lez Brotherston’s set and costume design.
This working partnership creates hit after hit of watchable, passionate dance that can make you laugh, cry and can sustain multi-layered story lines told without the use of a single spoken word.
With this production, we also have projection design by Duncan McLean. This additional design layer gives us the cinematic effect that makes Bourne ballets such as Cinderella and The Red Shoes feel like we are stepping into a vintage cinema to watch a fifties movie.
The rotating curtain dominating the set, is a brilliant concept complimenting this. It cuts and blends action from front and backstage and between locations.
Strong characterisation and solidly built relationships through the choreography and phenomenal skill of all the dancers makes The Red Shoes a gripping piece of theatre.
The end of Act One ballet within a ballet, where art mirrors ‘real life’, is masterful. It pulls away the dark dusty drapes of the backstage world and plunges us into a head-spinning version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes fairy tale. It’s a perfect marriage of angular choreography, tension building video and sharp costume design.
Bernard Herrmann’s Fahrenheit 451-Suite, is both dramatic and fantastical, providing a musical connection between the mystical and the everyday in this show.
Bourne is a master at manifesting psychological crises through dance and music. This is notably so in The Red Shoes, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake. Through a pacy Act Two, we follow the fall out and simmering tensions of Victoria Page (Cordelia Braithwaite), Boris Lermontov (Glen Graham) and Julian Craster (Dominic North) to a dramatic and satisfying climax.
Strong acting as well as dance ability is a key component in the success of New Adventures. Casting for shows is always impeccable. All dancers and their characters are highly watchable – whether it’s Matt Petty as Mikhail, Kate Lyons as Nadia, Jackson Fisch as Ivan Boleslawsky or Cordelia Braithwaite as Victoria.
The Red Shoes is a piece of theatre that demands an immediate second watch. Not just for its brilliance, but it’s one of those performances that’s well worthy of post-show discussion and deconstruction. If you can only fit it in once, make sure you do so.
This is high quality theatre that makes one’s heart sing. Matthew Bourne writes in the programme that The Red Shoes is the ‘culmination of a twenty-year ambition to bring Powell and Pressburger’s seminal 1948 film to the stage’. Between Matthew Bourne, a brilliant team of creatives and dancers whose ability and passion shines through every move, it’s definitely been a success worth the wait.
The Red Shoes is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 07 March 2020
For more information about New Adventures: https://new-adventures.net/
Featured Image: Cordelia Braithwaite as Victoria Page, by Johan Persson