Kneehigh have brought their ground breaking The Red Shoes back to London for a short run at the BAC. Giving London audiences the chance to catch up with the show that really brought the company to the world's attention almost a decade ago.
Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, a drag Queen Lady Lydia narrates the adventures of a young girl who tricks her blind elderly guardian into buying her a pair of red shoes, which make her dance with delight. Joy soon turns to despair, however, when the girl realises that the shoes will neither stop dancing nor will the come off. Great for parties, but not church, first dates or funerals.
In a final act of agony, and to avoid damnation, she visits the butcher who, in a gruesome scene, amputates her feet and replaces them with a pair of clumsy wooden clogs.
Told with childlike brutality, The Red Shoes reminds us all that at the heart of all good theatre is the essential search for a bigger and more beautiful life. A search perhaps for meanings that might sustain us and a sense that beyond the sad, the surreal and the complication of daily existence lies the brave truth that sharing stories, generously, in good company is the most wonderful gift that we can give each other. More than any other company that I can think of Kneehigh, almost with a shrug of their shoulders, provide a Theatre of Solace.