REVIEW: ‘The Red Shoes’ Kneehigh Theatre at the Asylum

Kneehigh theatre return to their native Cornwall with their brand new venue ‘The Asylum’ (a

rather spectacular tent which they will take all over the country following this stay in the

South West). The three shows on offer in the new venue are revivals of classic Kneehigh shows.

‘The Red Shoes’ is unmissable theatre.



A simple wooden stage with a metal staircase and overhead balcony has a glimpse from beyond the white tent surroundings of a sunlit field. Around this stage a collection of grey haggard looking actors wash their feet in old fashioned wash tubs looking out at the audience with a mixture of defiance and playfulness. So beings Kneehigh’s production of  ‘The Red Shoes’ written by Anna Murphy and directed by Emma Rice. This show is an anarchic, feminist and joyful retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale of a girl and the deadly consequences of her obsession with a pair of magical red dancing shoes. The finely crafted poetry of Anna Murphy’s script is well juxtoposed with the frantic theatricality of Kneehigh as the actors change characters, climb up spiral staircases, fight over micrpohones, paint their feet,  turn suitcases into Bentlys and, of course, dance (and then some!).

Patrycja Kujawska particularly impresses as ‘the girl’, silently but powerfully expressing the protagonists misery, joy and desperation but this is truly a great emsemble piece (the drag  queen narrator is a wonderful guide to the tale) that playfully winks at the audience one moment and gets lost in it’s own frantic theatricality the next. This show and ‘The Asylum’ are definately must seestory telling theatre this year.

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