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Review: The Red Shoes is another winner for Matthew Bourne

PUBLISHED: 14:55 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:17 21 February 2020

Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes is running at Norwich Theatre Royal until this weekend Credit: Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes is running at Norwich Theatre Royal until this weekend Credit: Johan Persson

JOHAN PERSSON

Sir Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes opened to an ever-loving Norwich crowd this week.

The Red Shoes by Matthew Bourne. Picture: Johan PerssonThe Red Shoes by Matthew Bourne. Picture: Johan Persson

The British company has always been a firm favourite in Norfolk, having toured both productions of Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet in the city last year.

The Red Shoes is no exception to Bourne's roster of imminently entertaining shows.

It tells the story of a young dancer who is given a break as the lead in a theatre company.

Her first production is Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale of The Red Shoes, and during rehearsals she falls in love with a young musician at the company - much to the anger of her dance teacher.

The Red Shoes by Matthew Bourne. Picture: Johan PerssonThe Red Shoes by Matthew Bourne. Picture: Johan Persson

Her life and that of the show begin to mirror each other, as both she and the character she plays are torn between the need to dance and another love.

Despite its unhappy premise, Bourne has played with the choreography enough over the years to insert more moments of humour than I have seen in any other ballet.

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There were many moments when the audience were laughing out loud, thanks to the well-constructed but not overly-engineered routines.

The Red Shoes by Matthew Bourne. Picture: Johan PerssonThe Red Shoes by Matthew Bourne. Picture: Johan Persson

Bourne has played more with breaking down the fourth wall between audience and stage in this show than his others - possibly because the story lends itself to this.

As such there's more physical theatre - hearing the sobs of characters and the banging of props - than we see in more classical ballets.

As a classical ballet fan, the impact of repeated bashing about did wear off for me, but it's a small bug-bear.

Cordelia Braithwaite - who was truly exceptional in Romeo and Juliet - dances the protagonist well, and it was nice to see her experimenting with the more contemporary movements in this piece.

As ever one of the company's strengths is its corps, thanks to Bourne's policy of each dancer being capable of dancing both lead and minor roles.

Sections where the whole cast were on stage were the most powerful, and were supported by ingenious staging and lighting designs.

This is a show ballet novices and long-time dance lovers alike will enjoy, and if you can come across a ticket I would recommend the trip.


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