REVIEW: The Red Shoes, MK Theatre

The Red Shoes
The Red Shoes

You get two for the price of one with the celebrated CCR – the opinions of seasoned hackette Bev Creagh and flamboyant newshound Stewart Carr. Here they share their views on The Red Shoes, at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday February 18.

CREAGH SAYS ... Every time I hear there’s a new Matthew Bourne ballet in the making, I wonder if he’ll be able to match or even better his last creation. And every time – thrillingly, awesomely, indubitably – he does.

The man who was knighted for his services to dance in 2015 is a genius and The Red Shoes a dazzling triumph.

If I only ever saw one show in my whole life again, this would be it. For it has sublime dancing from a stellar company, humour, pathos and heartbreak as well as stylish costumes, a stunning set and the haunting music of Bernard Herrmann.

It’s a ballet within a ballet, the story of aspiring ballerina Victoria Page and the tragic choice she has to make between the career she lusts after and the man she loves.

There is so much attention to detail, it’s astonishing. Seventeen characters on stage and each one a cameo. Their movements so fluid, their expressions so perfectly capturing the atmosphere in rehearsal, on holiday and in front of an audience.

Australian Ashley Shaw as Victoria is a dream dancer. She combines perfect routines with raw emotion and is mesmerising to watch.

Sam Archer as impresario Boris Lermontov is a disdainful presence most of the time, ramrod straight but devastatingly dashing as he tries to persuade Victoria to ditch her boyfriend and return to the Ballet Lermontov.

Dominic North is so expressive as hapless musician Julian Craster that speech is unnecessary.

I also loved Liam Mower as Ivan Boleslawsky, the exceptionally camp primeur danseur and Daisy May Kemp commanded attention as the graceful Lady Neston.

They’re all professional to their fingertips but there’s also an inner joy at sharing their skills with one another and an audience that that didn’t want to let them go.

Highly recommended.

CARR SAYS ... Ballet lover or not, the stunning visuals of The Red Shoes will ignite the interest of even the biggest sceptic.

This is the third ballet by Sir Matthew Bourne that I’ve been lucky enough to see and I have to say that it was my favourite.

Everything about it, the 1940s costumes, gilded sets, and old picture show lighting, harken back to an age of Golden Hollywood. It has glitz and glamour that’s irresistable to the eye.

But enough about looks.

The Red Shoes is a ballet that I thought would be lusty and erotic, but it was quite the opposite. While there were romantic moments of dancing under the moonlight, its essence is dark and brooding. We see the convoluted love triangle between star Victoria (Ashley Shaw) and her lovers Boris Lermontov (Sam Archer) and Julian Craster (Dominic North).

I will admit that because this is a story about a ballet performer, I often wasn’t sure which reality was the truth but I was constantly engaged nevertheless.

Truly engrossing, absolutely 10/10.

See here for tickets.