Visit to Canterbury and the Marlowe Theatre – Saturday 29 April 2017

We arrived in Canterbury in time for a welcome cup of coffee and afterwards had free time to visit local attractions, go shopping and have lunch before meeting at the Marlowe Theatre for the Saturday matinee performance of Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes. Those of us who had seen his other ballets were eagerly anticipating this new venture and it did not disappoint. It was choreographed by Matthew Bourne using the music of Bernard Herrmann which was absolutely wonderful. It was based broadly on the 1948 film by Powell and Pressburger.

The story is of a young dancer who is torn between love and dedication to her art and was probably inspired by Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes who were the rage of Europe in the early 20th century. Vicky Page, an aspiring ballerina, hopes to impress an impresario – Boris Lermontov, the Diaghilev-like director of an innovative ballet company. He invites her, together with a young composer, Craster, to join the company but Vicky falls in love with the Craster. Lermontov sees this as a betrayal and so exiles her from the company. She ekes out a career dancing in a music hall but the chance of dancing for Lermontov again lures her to return to dance once more in The Red Shoes. Craster pursues her to persuade her to return to him. In her confusion and indecision regarding the choice she must make between her love and her career she flees from Lermontov and is killed when she falls beneath an oncoming train.

The location of each scene was intensely atmospheric aided by terrific costumes and a fabulous score. The scenes took place in such a variety of locations: on the stage at Covent Garden, at a high society soiree, a London music hall and in Villefranche-sur-Mer. The sets were simple but evocative of both time and place and effortlessly transported the audience back in time.

An enjoyable day and a memorable theatrical experience.