Friday, 6 January 2017

The Red Shoes


Part of a New Year tradition is to get along to Sadlers Wells to see the latest Matthew Bourne. This year it's the Red Shoes, based upon the Hans Christian Anderson story and the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger movie.

With other Bourne pieces, he may add in a further twist, like the overt 100 year time shift in Sleeping Beauty or, come to think of it, the vampire element. But for Red Shoes, there was already enough, with its multiple country touring ballet setting and a the twists between front and backstage.

The staging of 'stage within a stage' is used very flexibly with Lez Brotherston's ingenuity. The story is told entirely with dance and weaves the story of the ballerina consumed by her art, blending overt references to the film and then to Diaghilev and Najinsky. The score uses Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann’s vintage music which seemed, to my ear, to have been given plenty of unexpected twists.

Then there's the main story. I'll admit that I had to retune myself for ballet when viewing this one. There is the 'ballerina falls under spell of impresario' narrative that drives through the piece, although I had a slight suspicion that if I didn't know the original story then this one might have been slightly harder to follow than the average Matthew Bourne.

And there's some sharp stylistic changes, it may begin with a more conventional setting, but other dramatic framing blasts in at various points along the story. And suffice to say it's packed out until the end of the London run.

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