Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes at the New Victoria Theatre Woking Review

4-8 February 2020

The Red Shoes

Reviewed by Katie Allen

I had the pleasure of seeing Sir Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake last year and was blown away by the choreography and talent so when I saw his production of The Red Shoes was coming to Woking’s New Victoria Theatre, I was keen to see it.

The ballet is based on the 1948 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and uses the music of Bernard Herrmann. It is set in London, Monte Carlo and the French Riviera in the late 1940s and shows a ballet impresario talent-spotting Victoria Page to dance in a ballet which he commissions a composer to write based on the Hans Christian Anderson’s tale – The Red Shoes.

The dramatic story is masterly played by the three main dancers and the whole company. 

  • Reece Causton as the impresario Boris Lermontov, shows his desire for his art and his muse and the inner conflict he feels.
  • Ashley Shaw as the rising star Victoria Page dances with such passion I found it hard to look at anyone else on the stage.
  • Harrison Dowzell as the struggling composer Julian Craster had great stage presence and I felt sorry for his character as he also battled with the struggle between love for his work and Victoria.

What I love about ballet is how the dancers convey such a complicated story without saying a word. The company held the audience in the palms of their hands taking us from high comedy and slapstick to an emotional love story to tragedy effortlessly and we all lapped it up. My 6-year-old daughter did not take her eyes off the stage and was literally on the edge of her seat throughout the whole 2-hour show.

I was particularly impressed with the set, costume and lighting design by Lez Brotherston and Paule Constable. I loved how the luxurious stage curtain moved through a full 360 degrees showing both the front and backstage drama and how this contrasted with the stark, monochrome projections used in the show within the show.

The Red Shoes is on in Woking until Sat 8th February and would make a great, romantic, early Valentine’s date with a loved one. If you’re more used to the older style theatre with small seats and no legroom, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised at this modern space. The theatre itself is within a shopping centre and next to a cinema giving a great atmosphere as you walk into the box office and allowing many options for dinner pre-show. There are bars and toilets on many levels and the middle level sometimes has a piano player playing show tunes which adds a sophisticated ambiance reminding me of a cruise ship. You can even get your interval snacks delivered to your seat!

We usually drive and park in the Peacock’s shopping centre multi-storey next door costing a flat rate of £1.50 if you enter the car park after 7pm. The added bonus of this location is you won’t need to store a bulky coat under your chair as the walk from the car park is completely under cover. I would also recommend using the prepay function at the car park pay points – it saves a long-time queuing after the show. For those who don’t drive, Woking railway station is a short 10-15-minute walk away.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes is at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking from 4-8 February 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 0844 871 7645.

New Victoria Theatre, The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ

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