By David Currie
40 minutes | Circus, Comedy, Drama | PG
A performer comes out 10 minutes before the show opens to stretch. Anticipation builds as audience members try and find the perfect seat. Hopping from seat to seat like eager children, I empathize with them the lead-up to this show is exhilarating.
As a green-clad woman, later revealed to be Baba Yaga slowly stokes the flame, the audience begins noticing. Market pedestrians begin gathering around the open-air show. Between the people in the audience and the people standing around the show there are close to 150 people watching when finally the show gets underway. The lead up so deliberate, creates a beacon of expectation drawing in large numbers of people curious and in tune with their a child’s desire for wonder.
In the opening moments of the show that wonder is met. The fascinating contortionism and mask play of Sarah Healy draw breaths out of spectators. Confounding our sense of reality, Sarah tells us there will be fire and then she lights her arm aflame!
A mysterious figure silently observes Baba Yaga’s dance.
We aren’t 10 minutes in and my pen drops: “Go see The Red Shoes,” I write. “Go see The Red Shoes!”
The Red Shoes takes place in a world where evil does one thing and says another. The story is a heavy handed allegory framing itself as magic vs. science but in truth it is far more about individuality vs. expectation. The story is also completely irrelevant and at time distracting from what really makes this show worth seeing – the brilliant dancing and theatrics of the cast. The show dips after Baba Yaga disappears from the plot and the pacing of the “scientific” more formal ballet section only serves to rekindle the audience’s desire for magic and wonder. Some people, both in the audience and spectating the show from beyond the fence, left – however in the words of one spectator, “You just know this is leading to something incredible.”
When that incredible thing happens, the enthusiasm of those watching summons market-passers by over to behold the flames, the dancing, the contortion, the bubbles, and the childbirth (seriously).
The Red Shoes is about 10 minutes too long, that middle section never really earns the amount of time it has in the show but still, go see The Red Shoes. Be amazed and let yourself wonder!