Note: This review is from the 2018 Fringe

Scruffy Mutt Theatre School’s The Red Shoes is an interesting take on the supernatural side of ballet, but bears little resemblance to the iconic Powell & Pressburger film of the same name.

So, what to say about this version? Like the proverbial curate’s egg, parts of it are stunningly brilliant, others not so. All the dance and movement is fantastic, as are most of the visual compositions and set pieces from choreographer Jade Fiori, passionately performed and full of vigour and imagination. The whole show is creatively lit and danced to an innovative choice of soundtracks. In particular, the closing scene where Hope, the heroine of the piece, is mauled by disgruntled fans to Dream a Little Dream of Me by Mama Cass is pure genius.

But the script. Oh dear, the script is sadly lacking and reminiscent of 1980s My Guy photo novels, where lines like “Aiiiieee, you bitch!” were frequent and unrepentant. Filippo Fiori’s opus here skates decidedly close to a similar level of dialogue, not helped by the fact that this cast of stunningly-talented physical performers have really no clue how to deliver lines. Aimee Wandless in the lead and Imogen Steele as the evil Karen, in particular, deliver spoken performances like something out of Hollyoaks or worse, which is a shame.

This is a good show. In fact, it’s a really good show, but it seriously needs to lose a lot of its talking-head scenes and show the story using movement and physical performance – which is the company’s strong point – rather than relying on paste-and-scissors dialogue, since, at present, it keeps being being dragged into the territory of life-is-tough-in-the-ballet-world, a theme which even Hollywood has done a million times before.  And done better.