Two years ago, Kneehigh Theatre came to Spoleto with Don John, their re-imagined tale of the ultimate lover. It was sexy and provocative, boundary pushing (crossing?) and really well done. The soundtrack was amazing. Naturally, expectations were super high when Spoleto announced Kneehigh would return with The Red Shoes. There have been mixed reviews trickling to my ears, but I’m going to tell you my own thoughts.
Like Don John, they used their set creatively and made many locations out of a minimal set with simple yet effective changes. Costuming also was minimalistic, base costumes were nothing more than skivvies and undershirts, layering outfits over top for each character. We particularly loved Lydia’s big pimping coat. I have to say, the white dress for the Girl reminded me more of mental patient than innocent confirmation candidate, but I loved the transition of her dress from white to red as the story wore on.
The makeup also had a slightly sinister or decaying look, with darkened eyes that looked like a ghost or a corpse. Made the whole ‘dance until you die’ thing very believable, as they already looked dead, or at least impoverished.
While no one seems to be quite as impressed with The Red Shoes as they were with Don John, I still think it is a very worthy production. They communicated a lot with very little in the way of set or costumes, which makes you have to work much harder as an actor. Elaborate sets, flashy effects, over the top costumes all can mask a flawed production, like an overly chilled cheap white wine.
So, I vote yes, go see The Red Shoes. If you still need more convincing, there is an accordion. You know how we love accordions over here. Enjoy.