Kneehigh’s touring production of The Red Shoes, itself a revival of Emma Rice’s award winning production from 2000 is deep, thought-provoking piece.
A deceptively simple design by Bill Mitchell led to a lot of space having to be filled by a cast of five (+2 musicians), which they did to great effect.
Total commitment to their roles was given by all members of the cast – especially Patrycja Kujawska as The Girl and Mike Shepherd as the Preacher/Angel/Butcher. Lady Lydia (Giles King) was used brilliantly in driving and manipulating the piece towards its conclusion.
For the entire duration, the audience’s attention (largely school groups, I might add) were griped by the story of one girl and her shoes which will not let her stop dancing.
Generally, Rice’s direction was impeccable – however, some moments felt they should have been left in the rehearsal room (a girl puppet, clearly introduced to cover a costume change is one such example – yet the rabbit puppets were well used). On the plus, the butcher scene especially was intense and strong with intelligent underscoring.
If you want thought-provoking physical theatre, I cannot recommend this production enough; if you don’t, take a punt, I bet you’ll enjoy a powerful evening out.