Glasgow · Theatre

Ballet: The Red Shoes

I’ve been doing so well with theatre this year! Last week we went to see the opening night of The Red Shoes at The King’s Theatre in Glasgow. This is a Matthew Bourne production, which presumably nods to the 1948 movie (I have to confess having never seen it) which itself is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale of the same name, more on that later.

Among my ballet-going friends, Matthew Bourne’s name is one that sparks interest. Although this is the first production of his that I have seen, they talk excitedly about previous ones – especially a production of Edward Scissorhands that they once saw. Needless to say then, that my hopes for this were high.


The story follows Victoria Page, a young girl who’s ambition is to become the greatest dancer in the world. As she grows, so does her talent but as usual, life is a little more complicated than anyone ever wants it to be. She falls in love with a composer and is forced to choose between him and the controlling producer who can make her a star.

The audience is shown the contrast between the love of a person and the love of art, and the obsession one can have with both that can eventually lead to ruin. Likewise, the contrast between art and real life and how these can become muddled on the stage, especially in a live production such as this. In particular, in the show within a show scene, in which Victoria dances the part of a girl who’s red shoes control her and won’t let her stop (the scene from the fairy tale that gives The Red Shoes its name)


This is particularly clear in the show within a show, in which Victoria dances the part of a girl who’s red shoes control her and won’t let her stop (the scene from the fairy tale that gives The Red Shoes its name). The girl is an obsessed dancer, takes a pair of shoes from the devil, and end up losing everything. This scene is particularly beautifully done here, with a stark black and white and the only colour coming from Victoria’s dress and shoes.

Throughout the production the dancing is wonderful. Ashley Shaw is a delight as Victoria and Sam Archer is a very powerful, imposing producer. The grace, style and beauty of the dancing were all striking but I was also surprised to find myself giggling – I didn’t expect this production to manage so much humour, but it did, and it allowed Bourne to strike the perfect balance against the darker scenes.

The only downside to the show was that I have to admit having been slightly confused occasionally. I didn’t immediately get what was going on and it’s only through thinking about it later that I think I understand what I was supposed to. Perhaps things are clearer if you’ve seen the movie.

Nevertheless, this didn’t at all hamper enjoy my enjoyment of the show. The music, dancing and set were all wonderful. It’s an exciting, powerful vibrant treat and I feel lucky to have been able to see it.

9 thoughts on “Ballet: The Red Shoes

      1. It was a few years apart! I went with a friend, then when the production came back I went with John. Though we ran into someone we knew this evening and she said some of her friends had been to Red Shoes on Tuesday and loved it so much they were back tonight,

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

    Interestingly, amongst my theatre group who have been to Bourne ballets, Edward Scissorhands is probably the least admired. It was still very enjoyable, but both Sleeping Beauty and (especially!) Lord of the Flies had something extra to them.

    Liked by 1 person

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