Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes Review

Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes

A New Adventures production based on the 1948 film inspired by the original story by Hans Christian Andersen

Curve 16 - 20 May 2017

Review by: Paul Towers, 16 May 2017 

'special as only Matthew Bourne does'

Every now and again I get asked to review something which I just know I will like.

When it is a Matthew Bourne production I know it is going to be something special.

Red Shoes CurveComing out of tonight's performance of his The Red Shoes I felt wrung out, emotionally drained. But, you may say, it is only dancing.

Saying that a Matthew Bourne piece is 'just dancing' is like saying that Leonard Cohen is 'just a singer'

If you were judging the show on just the dancing you would be more than satisfied but Bourne's New Adventures productions, especially when touring, are masterpieces of visual spectacle. The set alone is worthy of anything you would see in London's West End with a motorised red velvet curtain mounted on a gallery which has a life of its own as it swoops and glides around the stage depicting first front of cloth then backstage, doors, walls and endless partitions. Huge flying pieces of scenery drop in and out to suggest various locations. Added to this physical set is the immensely imaginative lighting. The follow spot is almost a character in its own right.

Red Shoes CurveAs is to be expected from the renowned choreographer the 'serious' dancing is entertainingly interspersed with camp, comic set pieces and, completely without any dialogue, he manages to convey the shallow bitchiness going on behind the scenes of the touring ballet company. There is even a fantastically bad version of the sand dance as performed by Wilson, Kepple and Betty (only without a Betty).

A hugely talented company of 25 dash back and forth off set changing into seemingly dozens of costumes

While I would implore anyone with even the faintest interest in dancing, and especially the parents of any teenage girl with ballet aspirations, to get to see this masterpiece I fear that you will be out of luck this time round in Leicester as the week is completely sold out with, I am told, a waiting list of 200 for returns.

It is, of course, continuing to tour and full details are found at

Paul Towers:

Pics Johan Persson