Theatre Review: Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes, Empire Theatre, Liverpool

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Image Source: ATG

Written By: Scott Gunnion

Format: Ballet
Genre: Drama
Date: June 27 2017
Location: Liverpool Empire Theatre

A night at the ballet. Sounds grand, doesn’t it? Opulent, even. Like a night at the opera, or a day at the races (Cheltenham, not Aintree obviously.)

If this sounds like your cup of tea or drug of choice, then prepare to be stunned and humbled in equal measure.

As healthily cynical as ever, I sat down at my seat expecting something pretentious and inaccessible.

But my reasoned apprehension melted almost instantly into smithereens.

Far from lofty and remote, it was instantly absorbing.

Though, being honest, I didn’t have a clue what was going on most of the time.

I wasn’t bored, but I was baffled. Dazzled, but baffled. Enraptured, but baffled.

It was hard not to be immensely impressed by the sheer skill and talent on display. I was almost in awe of the performers. Something about it was hypnotic.

The movements and those performing them were seamless and espoused an air of effortlessness, depending on how critical an eye is watching.

Those who opted to pay £1 for opera binoculars were missing out, for it was impossible for focus on any one point on the stage at any one time. Each performer was doing something different and unique all of the time. It is beyond doubt that the talent was of a high calibre. I wanted to fix my eyes on each and every one of them but couldn’t. What could have been messy and blundersome in the wrong shoes unfolded into what was a magnificent mesh of movement. Exceptional.

As for the Red Shoes themselves: as far as I could decipher, they were cursed, or even haunted. Though I must confess, I found it impossible to follow any coherent thread or plot based solely on my perceptions of interpretative dance, however elaborate it may have been. Perhaps that makes me uncultured or uncivilised. That might not be far from the truth.

Even if you come away from the performance with only faint praise, there is no doubt that you will step up out of your chair and give applause for the sheer intricacy and innovation of the set design which was unique from both a visual and a technical perspective.

So if you’re up for it, prepare to be impressed. You don’t even have to know what’s going on. Just sit back, sit still and watch.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10 – Okay