REVIEW: The Red Shoes, Theatre Royal Norwich

The Red Shoes. Dominic North as Julian Craster, Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page. Ohoto by Johan Persson

The Lord of the Dance, Matthew Bourne brings his new show, his first since 2011, to Norwich for a sell out run this week. He’s had the idea of making a piece out of the 1948 movie for about 20 years and started to actively work on it three years ago.

And the result, as with all of Bourne’s pieces, is something very special. It is jam-packed, with all manner of dance techniques and steps, with more ‘pure’ ballet than usual – indeed, you see dancers en pointe.

It is led by the music by Hollywood composer, Bernard Herrmann, with Bourne selecting some of his early work and amalgamating them into a very moving score that evokes as much reaction as the dancing.

This piece, set in the 1940s, follows the movie’s plot fairly closely – so there’s the ‘dance within a dance’ scenario - and a very dramatic ending which, again in true Bourne form, leaves you wondering, just a little. And it keeps that central theme of ambition versus love at its core.

Australian dancer Ashley Shaw takes the lead role and is outstanding; she simply owns the part as the dancer who can’t stop dancing.

The beautiful costumes and set design, by Bourne’s longtime collaborator Lez Brotherston, add yet more to this tight, high octane show, created by someone at the very top of their game.

Sarah Hardy

The show continues until Saturday, visit It is returns only.

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