Review: Scottish Ballet – The Nutcracker (4 stars)

This article is from 2014.

Review: Scottish Ballet – The Nutcracker

credit: Scottish Ballet

Scottish Ballet breathe spectacular new life into Peter Darrell's 1973 version of The Nutcracker

It’s an odd little story, The Nutcracker ballet. On Christmas Eve, Clara is given the gift of a wooden man who comes to life after midnight to lead her into a strange land. Some choreographers use it as a springboard to explore Freud, some to riff on ideas about childhood. In Peter Darrell’s version, created in 1973 and given a lavish design overhaul by Lez Brotherston, the story is kept as classic as can be, rooting the ballet in what it’s really all about: spectacle.

The result is a production as rich to the eyes as a box of tissue-wrapped chocolates. In the opening prelude we peep behind enormous doors into a red interior that breathes warmth and magic; when the curtain lifts, it is onto the most indulgent Victoriana scene imaginable, heavy with fringed drapes, gold globed chandeliers, bustles and diamonds. There isn’t a huge amount of dance to be seen in the prologue, but handing the roles of the children over to real children – all brilliant and step-perfect – creates a kind of masque that feels authentic and honest.

When the Nutcracker leads Clara into the Land of Ice, Darrell’s choreography comes into its own. Though coated in tutus, stockings and glitter, the dance manages to be classical yet warm and alive. Arms are soft when opening, spins take you by surprise with their speed and direction.

In the Land of Sweets, the Russian dancers swing recklessly in medieval jester-pointed hats. Eve Mutso sprinkles queenly glamour on the Arabian sweet with sensual snake wrists and pharaonic hands.

Sugar Plum Fairy Constance Devernay looks born to dance en pointe – as if that’s how she potters about her sugar plum house all day. Tchaikovsky’s score meanwhile, in short show-stopping bursts, makes this a ballet that even children with bite-size attention spans will gobble up.

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, until Sat 3 Jan 2015; Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Wed 7–Sat 10 Jan 2015.

Scottish Ballet: The Nutcracker

  • Written by: Tchaikovsky

The festive favourite set to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score. Peter Darrell’s production of The Nutcracker is unique in that the main character, Clara, is danced by a young girl performing alongside the Company’s 40 professional dancers. Booking is essential.

Eden Court Theatre and Cinema, Inverness

Wed 24 Jan 2018

Times & prices to be confirmed / 01463 234234

Thu 25 Jan 2018

Times & prices to be confirmed / 01463 234234

Fri 26 Jan 2018

Times & prices to be confirmed / 01463 234234

Sat 27 Jan 2018

Times & prices to be confirmed / 01463 234234

Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Sat 9 Dec

£15.50–£44.50 / 0131 529 6000

Sun 10 Dec

£15.50–£44.50 / 0131 529 6000

Wed 13 Dec

£15.50–£44.50 / 0131 529 6000

…and 13 more dates until 30 Dec

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen

Wed 17 Jan 2018

£36–£46 / 01224 641122

Thu 18 Jan 2018

£36–£46 / 01224 641122

Fri 19 Jan 2018

£36–£46 / 01224 641122

Sat 20 Jan 2018

£36–£46 / 01224 641122

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