Review: Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes arrives in Bristol

PUBLISHED: 09:03 05 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:31 05 April 2017

The Red Shoes. Picture: Johan Persson

The Red Shoes. Picture: Johan Persson


The Red Shoes is a beloved fairytale and an Academy Award-winning movie – but world-renowned choreographer Matthew Bourne has just bought his stunning version of the show to Bristol.

The Red Shoes has been adapted by Bourne and it arrived at the Bristol Hippodrome yesterday (Tuesday). Mercury content editor Briana Millett went along to its opening night…

The Hans Christian Andersen story has been adapted multiple times through the years, but most famously in the 1948 film. The story follows Victoria Page, a young woman who lives to dance. But her ambition soon becomes a battleground between two men who inspire her and her story turns into one of obsession.

At the heart of the story is a pair of red ballet shoes which make a dancer shine – but once they are on, their wearer cannot stop dancing.

The Red Shoes. Picture: Johan Persson The Red Shoes. Picture: Johan Persson

New Adventures is the company behind the show and The Red Shoes has seen the team behind its successful production of Sleeping Beauty reunite. Lez Brotherston is the genius behind the set and costumes for this show, Paule Constable was responsible for its wonderful lighting and Paul Groothuis was in charge of pitch-perfect sound.

These three experts clearly know how to work together. The set, costumes, lighting and sound were all individual successes, but together they made for a captivating performance which thrilled every sense.

I feel it’s important to say, at this point, that I’m no ballet expert… my mum took me to ballet lessons when I was about three years old and I spent my time picking my nose while the other children were perfecting their plies. Since then I’ve watched a few ballets in a slightly confused state, not really understanding the plot and daydreaming about what I’m going to have for dinner the next day – The Red Shoes was not one of them. From the second the show started I was hooked; it was engaging, easy to follow, stunning and, in places, it made me laugh out loud.

The Red Shoes. Picture: Johan Persson The Red Shoes. Picture: Johan Persson

I didn’t see one dancer put a foot wrong the entire show – instead, they amazed me with their ability to go from standing still to leaping five foot into the air with no real effort at all.

The star of the show was Ashley Shaw, who played Victoria Page. For a moment she had me genuinely believing the red shoes were controlling her feet, because how could it have been possible for her to move that quickly, gracefully and expertly across the stage?

The play also had an ending which took my breath away, and which left the audience in such a stunned silence you could hear a pin drop.

The Red Shoes. Picture: Johan Persson The Red Shoes. Picture: Johan Persson

The dancers easily secured a standing ovation at Bristol Hippodrome and it has already received critical acclaim, too, having been nominated for an Olivier Award and a Manchester Theatre Award this year. In my opinion you must see it while you can.

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes will be at Bristol Hippodrome from tonight (Wednesday) to Saturday. There will be performances at 7.30pm each evening as well as 2.30pm shows tomorrow (Thursday) and Saturday. Tickets, priced £18.40-54.40, are available online via or by calling 08448 713012.

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