Review: Never A Dull Moment In Matthew Bourne's 'The Red Shoes'

"The most beautiful and enchanting of ballets" is at New Wimbledon Theatre

Red Shoes company

I have now seen Mathew Bourne’s ‘The Red Shoes’ twice and would go again tomorrow to repeat the experience! There’s so much going on in this show that there’s truly never really a dull moment. I find it the most beautiful and enchanting of ballets which offers magnificent dancing and acting, exquisite costumes, dramatic sets and hysterically funny comedy. A pastiche of colour and emotion, tulle and glamour.


Based on the 1845 fairy tale by Hans Cristian Anderson and the 1948 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, with music by Bernard Herrmann, this production gives physical and theatrical expression to a classic tale and brings it to wonderful new heights.


Given the current focus in the UK on mental health issues, we can all maybe relate to and draw a message from the lure of what’s bad for us overcoming where we should be going and the dilemma of which route to take. This plot focuses on the obsession of pursuing the perfection of art to the detriment of love, resulting in inevitable downfall.


Ashley Shaw at Victoria PageI would have to commend the entire cast for the performance they are giving at New Wimbledon Theatre this week, but naturally I need to highlight the main characters. Ashley Shaw, who plays the role of Victoria Page (left) presents us with the beauty of flowing, alluring grace decked in net and tulle and is the epitomy of the beautiful and perfect ballerina, only to be drawn into the abyss of destruction, well reflected in her demeanour, dance and tattered costume. Our heroine gives such a strong mesmerising performance it just made me want to watch more.


However, for me the performance of Reece Causton as Boris Lermontov was exquisite. His handsome and aristocratic form oozed control, turning to pure evil and downright nastiness in his creepingly luring attempt to draw Victoria Page to her doom by tempting her with the stars of the show – the beautiful red ballet shoes! I could imagine his creepings depicted in illustrations from a Victorian childhood fairy tale book. Really scary.


Harrison Dowzell as Julian Craster gave us magnificently animated performances of his orchestral conducting skills with his exaggerated movements, making us truly believe in his magnificent musical talent. And Michela Meazza provided us with great comedy moments including strutting across the stage with a beautiful white ballet dress sadly not entirely appropriate for her mature years. Her strong facial expressions displayed her wonderful character, which shone through her strong performance.


The plot was excellently supported with beautiful red and black theatrical stage sets, constantly moving and changing, which contrasted very sharply with the brightness and colour of Monte Carlo and the fantasy fairy tale sets with magnificent atmospheric sound effects taking the audience into totally different dimensions.


There isn’t space in my review really to highlight everything I found fascinating about this show but due credit most be given to everybody who performed on stage and supported off stage for a highly accomplished and gripping creation. A performance well worth the standing ovation it received. I can’t wait to go back for a third time!

By Carol Whittaker

  • The Red Shoes runs at New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday (March 14)

March 11, 2020