Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Harrison Dowzell. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Harrison Dowzell. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


The Red Shoes (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 4th February 2020 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Originally a dark fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Red Shoes was adapted for the big screen by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in 1948. It follows a dance company as they tour the world; and the story of two men's obsession with Victoria Page, a dancer who longs to be a star and becomes possessed by her red ballet shoes.

With multiple locations, sometimes indistinguishable characters and intricate meta-narratives, The Red Shoes isn't the easiest of ballets to follow, but Matthew Bourne's production somehow provides a perfect introduction to the art form and takes you on a journey that you don't want to end, as the continuous flow and incredible emotion keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.

What really elevates this show is the way the story forms a distinction between creating and performing art. We see the process of the dressers and choreographers bringing a vision to life in a structured and unified way; whilst, the performers are intensely frenzied and intense. These opposites come together to create a beautifully enchanting show. Just like the real world of theatre, what we see on stage is the graceful swan above the water, but what we miss is the underwater kicking of intense rehearsals, quick changes and personal drama. If anything, The Red Shoes is a fantastic reminder and celebration of the hard work, creativity and energy that goes into putting on a great piece of theatre.


Before the show even begins, magic is created thanks to Lez Brotherson's exceptional design. A luxe red curtain drapes the stage and reveals the varying worlds of The Red Shoes. From monochrome moments to full colour clubs and beaches, every moment feel luxurious and perfectly designed. The costumes are timely and tailored to perfection, with a divine attention to detail that is understated enough to be effective, but not in your face. When Victoria first dances in her red ballet shoes, she wears a flawless costume that highlights the red and welcomes her as a prima. During act two however, the mental and physical toils she faces are mirrored through the demise of her costume which is shredded and faded. These details are effective beyond belief and make this whole production feel superior.

Bourne's company are outstanding. Ashley Shaw is of course, technically wonderful as Victoria, but it's her steely drive and intensity to succeed that make her so enjoyable to watch; especially when contrasted so excellently against her compassion and vulnerability. As Victoria's lover/musician/muse, Harrison Dowzell is pure joy to watch. The way he flies around the stage, and shows his love for music with a genuine sense of revelry can't help but bring a smile to your face.

Victoria's dances with both men are incredibly striking and Reece Causton as Boris Lermontov is utterly shocking. His obsessive and sharp but quiet demeanour is terrifying to witness but completely absorbing.  This is a production where you often find yourself holding your breath as it rarely lets you escape from it's magical grip. The end of act one is one of the most spectacularly effective moments in theatre and really should be experienced.

The entire New Adventures company prove once again why they're so revered in this glorious looking and exceptionally assured production. The Red Shoes is a must see tale of passion, envy and tragedy.

The Red Shoes plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 8th March before continuing its tour

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 19th April 2022 by Angie Creagh-Brown
★★★★

The Nutcracker Suite is an old and much beloved family Christmas favourite. Matthew Bourne's version, however is a somewhat different take on the classic.

What can I say about it? Well it was just wonderful!!! The New Victoria Theatre is a large, modern and inviting building, which at this performance welcomed an audience of all ages; there were some young children (well-behaved) and the ambience was happy and inviting, a taste of the sweet treat evening to come.

Bourne takes the original story of a well to do family celebrating Christmas Eve with friends and family and turns it completely round; his version starts in an orphanage, the cast are dressed in grey, the scenery is grey - no light, no joy. The teenage children are preparing to 'enjoy' their meagre Christmas Eve and are joined by the owner, Dr Dross, danced by Danny Reubens, his wife the Matron, Daisy May Kemp, son Fritz, Dominic North and their very spoilt daughter Sugar, Ashley Shaw.

The children manage to find a Nutcracker, which had been locked away in a cupboard, and they escape to a wondrous scene of falling snow, ice-skating and snowballs. To add to their excitement the Nutcracker miraculously changes from a toy to a handsome, well-muscled and talented young man, (Harrison Dowzellto the delight of the children and the leading lady.

The ensemble dancing was lovely, there were comic moments, surprises and hints of jealousies to come. The dancers were performing with large smiles on their faces, which in turn put joy onto the faces of the audience.

Act Two opens with a kaleidoscope of colour which is The Road to Sweetieland. Clara, beautifully danced by Cordelia Braithwaite, is desperately trying to gain entrance to Sweetieland aided by the The Cupids, wonderfully portrayed by Enrique Ngbokota and Shoko Ito. She is still dressed in her undergarments and they find a pretty dress for her, but it does not compare in any way to that worn by her nemesis, Sugar.

There is a lot of humour in this act. Superbly bright costumes and a plethora of well-known sweets dancing wonderfully. It's a visual treat like no other.

The cast is very diverse, which would mirror the children in an orphanage. The story has been re-written in a modern way. This means it would possibly not be suitable for very young children on whom the innuendoes would be lost, but in terms of aesthetics it's sure to appeal to all ages.

The staging, set design, lighting and costumes all added wonderfully to the most enjoyable evening which finished with a standing ovation and joy abounded both on the stage and in the auditorium.

The Nutcracker plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 23rd April

photo credit: Johan Persson