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Pleasance Courtyard

Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a young girl who has a Faustian pact with her footwear is brought to musical life from the theatrical group called Young Pleasance. Where they have decided to set this tale in Berlin leading up to the Second World War. Here our tragic heroine is an orphan and the only thing she was bequeathed by her ailing mother were a pair of scarlet dance slippers. At the time, when this tale was first brought to life by the sexually repressed Andersen, it was very much dealing with the fact that red raiment and dancing could be seen as something sinful!

And the way Young Pleasance create this tale it is certainly interesting, as they revel in the burlesque club night scene that would have been happening in Berlin at the time. You can certainly see the influence of the musical “Cabaret’ on this show, but it has enough ideas of its own to mark it as something different from that. Alas, it’s a shame for a show that you’d think would imbue dance in all it’s glory, that there’s not that much of it happening on stage and when it does happen it can be rather sloppy. Although there was one dance piece in the latter part of the show that had an awful lot of energy in it and even had back flips and so truly represented the frenetic and dangerous power of this footwear. So it’s just a shame that didn’t come across throughout the whole production. And equally the singing was a bit lacklustre too.

It’s a pity, as there are some really good things happening here. Be it the considered lighting or the thought that goes into all the costumes, but it’s more the creative ideas that shone out to me.  Like the representation of the devil being more of a demonic his and hers double act that also facilitating as the impresarios of our show. Or the fact that they also allude to the shoes being much older than we realise and have been causing trouble from one generation to another for heaven knows how long. The latter idea could fuel a whole show in itself and probably would have got my feet itching to see a production that explored that more.

Markus Helbig



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