Lowry Theatre Manchester Dec 01st 2021
Well he has done it again! Matthew Bourne has delivered yet another brilliant evening of narrative driven dance /ballet / theatre by taking the traditional festive treat of The Nutcracker, dropping the The, and transporting the audience on a magical journey. Moving from the dull and drab surroundings of a Dickensian orphanage, by way of a snow and ice world to Sweetieland with its blitz of garish colour and sugary sweetness.
Fear not though traditionalists as you will still find a huge amount to relish including that sumptuous Tchaikovski score and the more or less basic similar story where toys come to life and the with the central characters of Clara and of course Nutcracker. As with many of Bourne’s productions there are stories within stories and tonight was no exception. First we are introduced to all the orphan characters as they traipse on-stage displaying their own unique, and yet partially suppressed, personas before they draw down the backing curtain to unveil the physically skewed drab orphanage. This plays with your perception as nothing looks right as the cast dance their childlike routines fluidly before the arrival of Dr and Mrs Dross plus their very spoilt, selfish and thoroughly unlikeable children Sugar and Fritz.
Meagre gifts are handed out to all, except Clara, when posh visitors arrive but she takes comfort upon finding a small manikin doll but the pleasure is short lived as it is pulled apart by Sugar and Fritz. Of course this turns out to be the titular Nutcracker who magically comes to life within Clara’s imagination allowing her to escape from the orphanage.
The story flows beautifully through the Snowflakes section here transposed into a Frozen Lake sequence and on to Sweetieland complete with Gobstoppers, Marshmallow Girls, King & Queen Sherbert, The Humbug Bouncer, Cupids and, my personal favourites, the hugely amusing flamenco dancing Liquorice Allsorts. All of these characters are of course much happier versions of the orphans.
Nutcracker is such a well-known piece that it behoves me not to detail here what happens but of course there is a full and happy ending. This production is coming to Scotland early in 2022 and I would really recommend sourcing a ticket as it is very entertaining. Just what we need following these dreary pandemic times.