Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!
Paul Johnson | 18 Nov 2011 16:59pm
Anyone that has ever indulged in a plié or pas de chat will greet the mentioning of Matthew Bourne with enthusiastic oohs and aahs. Ever since I was taken to see Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House nearly thirty years ago, any ballet keeps me entranced and this was no exception. Having seen Bourne’s Swan Lake, I was intrigued to see what he had done with Tchaikovsky’s celebrated masterpiece. The thing with Matthew Bourne is that he is able to take something that has a limited appeal and make it a must-see showstopper. Ballet has a very dedicated but more limited audience than most entertainment sectors. Often seen as an elitist past-time, Bourne makes people realise that ballet is for everyone – age and gender not withstanding. The full (an achievement when tickets cost up to £38) and varied audience proved this. Nutcracker! is a modern wonder. Taking the original music, Bourne has managed to conjure up a storyline that fits so well, you would believe the music was written for this show. Transporting the audience straight into Dr Dross’ Orphanage for Waifs and Strays, the scene before us was a feast for the senses. The imaginative choreography, the clever set – it kept the auditorium rapt. Despite the dull colours of the poor, neglected children; the whole scene was one of wonderment and excitement. Each dancer managed to convey their character’s individual personality – a feat considering they have only facial expressions (and feet) to rely upon. Twenty-four dancers made up the cast for the first scenes and each one exhibited their skill and creativity successfully. A special mention must go to Hannah Vassallo as ‘Clara’ who captured one’s heart with her sorry tale and exquisite portrayal. She made the audience feel for the character, erring her on through the adventure. The other characters were also adept at making the audience carry strong feelings for them – ‘Sugar’ (Ashley Shaw) was undoubtedly annoying, Nutcracker (Chris Trenfield) infuriated us with his easily led nature. But they all animated their characters and all deserve merit. After a brief interval from the magic and mystery, we were catapulted into a totally new world where ‘what you taste like’ ruled supreme. The cheeky sweets, each with clear personalities again; danced, sashayed and generally cavorted on their way to The Wedding Party. Clara tries valiantly to befriend the vacuous, fluffy Marshmallow girls (whose costumes I would love to have), the yobby Gobstoppers, the vain Liquorice All Sorts, and the lewd Knickerbocker Glory. Finally her salvation appears in the form of the Cupids. Inspiration at its best! We were then treated to the twenty foot high wedding cake – another set design triumph as the dancers became like life-size decorations. There was just too much to see and take in. I cannot enthuse enough, as I am sure you are realising. My one complaint? Just a little one – the lack of a live orchestra. I fully understand that with a touring production, there are far more limitations placed on the company. However, it just meant the music lost some of its presence and almost became incidental in the face of the breathtaking dancing.
- : admin
- : 07/11/2011