REVIEW: The Red Shoes, Sadler’s Wells

This new revival of Matthew Bourne’s romantic and dramatic take on the 1948 film is beautiful to watch unfold.

(c)Johan Persson.

Matthew Bourne has such a way of story telling in all of his work – even with their contemporary twist whether it is his all-male Swan Lake or the deeply gothic rendition of Sleeping Beauty, all of his work reveals how these classic stories can take on a whole new meaning.

Having first premiered in 2016, his version of The Red Shoes is deeply psychological – highlighting the pressure and strain on young upcoming ballerina Vicky who is soon forced to choose between her career or a romance with a musical conductor with tragic consequences.

Everything about this production is absolutely sumptuous – filled with the most glorious attention particularly through Lez Brotherston’s gorgeous and elegant set and costume designs that capture the era and spirit of the story perfectly. Meanwhile, Bernard Herrmann’s emotionally rich score heightens the feeling of being completely involved with the story – particularly during the more intimate moments of dancing that have been exquisitely choreographed and performed to perfection.

(c)Johan Persson

Yet despite the intensity and drama, the fairytale quality of Hans Christian Anderson’s original story (on which the film was based) also comes through charmingly, particularly during the early sequences in which Vicky performs for the first time. Bourne’s choreography stylishly conveys the twists and turns of the story to perfection – such as in the darker second act that is is filled with heartfelt emotion.

There are so many performances that really delight throughout. Not least Cordelia Braithwaite’s glorious performance as Vicky – filled with youthful exuberance initially that deepens and intensifies as the story and her world begins to unravel. Elsewhere, Adam Cooper as Boris and Dominic North as Julian are brilliantly charismatic and breathtaking to watch as they compete for Vicky’s attention. But all of the New Adventures cast are equally mesmerising to watch as they bring this story so heartbreakingly to life.

Elegant, dramatic, emotionally engaging, The Red Shoes is an absolutely stunning piece of work that mesmerises from start to finish.

By Emma Clarendon

The Red Shoes continues to play at Sadler’s Wells until the 19th January 2020. To book tickets click here.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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