Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes, Theatre Royal, Norwich. February 2017.
As has become clear to regular blog readers I have developed a real love of ballet, and especially those choreographed by Matthew Bourne. A group of friends contemplated travelling to London in the height of the Christmas madness to see this but as Norwich was announced as a tour stop we decided to see it closer to home.
Theatre location didn't seem to matter at all for as soon as the curtain rose you were fully immersed in the show and travelled between London and France with the cast as the story unfolded.
Although Mr Norfolkbookworm is a huge Powell and Pressburger fan, and has seen the film, I only had a vague outline of the plot in my head but as with the best storytelling that didn't matter at all as it all unfolded clearly and with great emotion in front of me. In fact when it comes to emotion on stage I think that this was one of the most erotic pieces I've seen as well as the most romantic - I utterly believed in the love and relationship of the two leads.
The set was so clever, for the most part recreating a theatre on the stage with the house curtains spinning to take you front and back stage as the action needed. When we were taken to France this again was clearly and simply shown with a simply balustrade and a back drop. I think the way to sum up the whole set is 'deceptively simple' with the finale coming totally out of the blue (for someone unfamiliar with the film) and packing an incredibly emotional punch.
Everything about this production was superb, the dancing, set, costumes, music all worked together to create a feast for the senses. I think that special credit must go to the dancers who had to fake poor dancing as part of the plot - I can only imagine how hard it is to make something look bad while doing it safely and professionally.
As a friend said afterwards - the only problem with this show, and anything by Bourne, is that there are so many details you just want to see it again instantly to make sure you catch everything. Sadly for us however it is a total sell out in Norwich and this won't be possible currently. I do urge you to give it a go if it tours near where you are this year.
This is definitely my show of the month for February and I think it is likely to appear in my 2017 top 10 at the end of the year.