Thursday, 6 February 2020

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures 'Red Shoes' at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking


Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures are embarking on another UK Tour, this year with The Red Shoes - a dramatic tale of Victoria Page and her desire to be the greatest dancer in the world and the obsessions which encircle her. The Red Shoes is most famous as a film from the 1940’s - in a world where technicolour was just gaining momentum, suddenly amidst the monochromatic world of cinema comes this remarkable film focussed on colour, specifically (of course) red. Bourne explains this production is “the culmination of a twenty year ambition to bring Powell and Pressburger’s seminal 1948 film to the stage” and “a personal love letter to a life in theatre and in dance.” Previously winning two Olivier Awards, Woking’s New Victoria Theatre is blessed to be hosting The Red Shoes this week. 

Unsurprisingly, Bourne has selected the Creme De La Creme of modern ballet for this company, with many of this cast having worked together for years. The chemistry of the ensemble is (pardon the pun) en pointe. They all work and pair together so effortlessly. It is always a delight to see Liam Mower shine, and that he did as the effervescent Premier Danseur Ivan Boleslawsky. As Victoria Page’s love interest and struggling composer Julian Craster is Harrison Dowzell who leaped and flew across the stage (and atop a piano) at such heights, I’m convinced he had springs in his shoes. A stunning performance.

Bourne’s Prima ballerina is Ashley Shaw (winner of a National Dance Award for her portrayal of Victoria Page), a dancer who has enthralled me ever since I first saw her dance Aurora in the New Adventure’s 2015-2016 Tour of Sleeping Beauty. As Victoria Page, the ballet’s leading lady driven wild by ambitions she can’t control and torn between two men who inspire her in different way, Shaw is perfect. Simply perfect. I commented in a review of Shaw in 2016 - “…you cannot help but be spellbound by her” so am thrilled to see nothing has changed. Shaw emotes through every muscle in her body right through to the ends of fingertips. She is an exceptional actress with the most wonderful gift for dance. Her characterisation is intense and thorough; she conveys so much to us without a single word, taking us on a remarkable journey culminating in an edge-of-your-seat finale. 

The Red Shoes exudes high production value - costume changes aplenty and
epic lighting on some truly gorgeous set pieces. It is immaculately presented and yet not at all pretentious. Irene Bohan has created stunning costumes to fit the balletic epic. From seaside swimming costumes to high-waisted trouser suits and emerald green tuille dresses - every piece aided in the storytelling; it all fit together so perfectly. 

I will dream of this production for nights to come. It’s a very special piece of theatrical magic and perhaps the most emotive ballet I’ve ever seen. Completely flawless from start to finish. A must-see for seasoned ballet fans and newcomers alike. 

Review by Harriet Langdown 

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: K4, Stalls | Price of Ticket: £54.40 (Plus Booking Fee, Via ATG)

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