Guest reviewer: Angie Creagh-Brown
The Nutcracker Suite is an old and much-beloved family Christmas favourite. Matthew Bourne‘s version, however, is a somewhat different take on the classic.
What can I say about it? Well, it was just wonderful! At Woking’s New Victoria Theatre, where I saw it, the performance welcomed an audience of all ages; there were some young children (well behaved) and the ambiance was happy and inviting, a taste of the sweet treat evening to come.
Bourne takes the original story of a well-to-do family celebrating Christmas Eve with friends and family and turns it completely round; his version starts in an orphanage, the cast are dressed in grey, the scenery is grey – no light, no joy. The teenage children are preparing to ‘enjoy’ their meagre Christmas Eve and are joined by the owner, Dr Dross, danced by Danny Reubens, his wife the Matron, Daisy May Kemp, son Fritz, Dominic North and their very spoilt daughter Sugar, Ashley Shaw.
The children manage to find a Nutcracker, which had been locked away in a cupboard, and they escape to a wondrous scene of falling snow, ice-skating and snowballs. To add to their excitement the Nutcracker miraculously changes from a toy to a handsome, well-muscled and talented young man, (Harrison Dowzell) to the delight of the children and the leading lady.
The ensemble dancing was lovely, there were comic moments, surprises and hints of jealousies to come. The dancers were performing with large smiles on their faces, which in turn put joy onto the faces of the audience.
Act Two opens with a kaleidoscope of colour which is The Road to Sweetieland. Clara, beautifully danced by Cordelia Braithwaite, is desperately trying to gain entrance to Sweetieland aided by the The Cupids, wonderfully portrayed by Enrique Ngbokota and Shoko Ito. She is still dressed in her undergarments and they find a pretty dress for her, but it does not compare in any way to that worn by her nemesis, Sugar.
There is a lot of humour in this act. Superbly bright costumes and a plethora of well-known sweets dancing wonderfully. It’s a visual treat like no other.
The cast is very diverse, which would mirror the children in an orphanage. The story has been re-written in a modern way. This means it would possibly not be suitable for very young children on whom the innuendoes would be lost, but in terms of aesthetics it’s sure to appeal to all ages.
The staging, set design, lighting and costumes all added wonderfully to the most enjoyable evening which finished with a standing ovation and joy abounded both on the stage and in the auditorium.
The Nutcracker plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 23rd April
photo credit: Johan Persson
‘A kaleidoscope of colour & dance’: @RewriteThisWeb on #MatthewBournesNutcracker, now on tour c/o @New_Adventures and @SirMattBourne. ★★★★★ #dancereviews #touring #uktheatre