Kneehigh Theatre, The Red Shoes

Review in Issue 12-4 | Winter 2000

Two men dressed in stained vests and pants, each holding a suitcase, observe me in a bemused way upon entering BAC. They later find another pair (one man and one woman) observing the audience in a similar way from onstage as the show begins. It is silent, but for the sound of water as they ritually wash their feet. Next they are joined by a man in drag who puts a cabaret-spin on the whole thing as he climbs a spiral staircase, with microphone in hand, up to a platform.

The set conjures up a crooked fairytale house, which supports and serves well Anderson’s magical story. With smooth use of concertina screens, some flying fishing rods, and various suitcases, the set successfully transforms as the characters are brought to life. With the mechanics of the show rarely hidden, and the red shoes shown in their best, reddest, shiniest light, I was entranced and enchanted by the ensemble performing. A variety of characters are created using very little (the odd hairpiece, prop, or bit of clothing) – my favourite being an operatic vicar.

After highly memorable performances and a dramatic struggle for the girl between the devil shoes, an angel came to lift her to salvation and I was left thinking about animal passion. Escaping both, she seems to tell us to dance our own dance. At the end, the narrator, descending onto the stage, removes his long coat revealing stained underwear, and you question who will be pulling the strings tomorrow.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-4
p. 27