MATTHEW BOURNE’S NUTCRACKER
Runs: 1h 50m, one interval
Touring till 19 May
Review: Alexander Ray 11 02 12, Birmingham Hippodrome
Funny, touching . . . totally delicious
Matthew Bourne regularly shows that he’s able to fundamentally reinvent ideas. So he does with this NUTCRACKER, though, intriguingly it was born several years ago. This version is expanded from the earlier. And it’s witty, charming, bright, dark, sexy and entrancing.
Bourne sets his tale (which is only marginally less unlikely than the original) in an orphanage; the waifs and strays are overseen by a horrible doctor and his wicked, power dressed wife – the Matron. Much fun and games at Christmas Eve, but when Nurse and Doctor throw out the children’s presents, the children riot – freed by a doll-come-to-life (alias The Nutcracker). After a frozen lake episode the story shifts into Sweetieland – sweets being the context for the delightful NUTCRACKER group of set-pices dances, here, also reinvented . And so on, with a happy ending.
Bourne seizes every opportunity this fertile ground offers for witty dancing, enhanced by equally witty costuming (Anthony Ward). Liquorice Allsorts, Marshmallow Girls and the Gobstopper motorcyclists are the tops.
Bourne’s choreography is, as ever, extrovert but remains, always, at the service of his storytelling. The dance style is eclectic – a nod in the direction of Swan Lake can also be puppet-like, classical ballet is both pastiched and celebrated, street dance and even acrobatics find their place comfortably within the whole.
Plenty of opportunities for OTT acting (which never gets out of control) and a sense of fun, which is infectious. Underpinning it, a journey that moves from imprisonment to (sexual?) freedom. And complete, solid, thrilling ensemble; one is tempted to say there are no stars, but (risking a cliche) all the dancers are stars.
Dr Dross: Neil Westmoreland, Daniel Wright
Matron, his wife: Madelaine Brannan, Daisy May Kemp, Ella Murfitt
Sugar, their daughter: Sophia Hurdley, Ashley Shaw, Chloe Wilkinson
Fritz, their son: Daniel Collins, Luke Murphy, Dominic North, Danny Reubens
Clara: Carrie Johnson, Katy Lowenhoff, Hannah Vassallo
Nutcracker: Adam Maskell, Edwin Ray, Chris Trenfield
Orphans, Governors: The Company
Princess Sugar: Sophia Hurdley, Ashley Shaw, Chloe Wilkinson
Prince Bon-Bon: Daniel Collins, Dominic North, Luke Murphy, Danny Reubens
Cupids: Phil Jack Gardiner, Sophia Hurdley, Carrie Johnson, Dena Lague, Liam Mower, Luke Murphy, Gavin Persand
King Sherbert: Neil Westmoreland, Daniel Wright
Queen Candy: Madelaine Brennan, Daisy May Kemp, Etta Murfitt
Humbug Bouncer: The Company
Liquorice Allsorts: Tom Jackson Greaves, Katy Lowenhoff, Katrina Lydon, Leom Moran, Liam Mower, Alastair Postlethwaite, Edwin Ray, Ashley Shaw
Knickerbocker Glory: Tom Jackson Greaves, Adam Maskell, Alastair Postlethwaite
Marshmallow Girls: Merry Holden, Carrie Johnson, Nicole Kabera, Mari Kamata, Daisy May Kermp, Dena Lague, Katrina Lyndon, Kate Lyons, Jamie McCornald, Clhoe Wildinson
Gobstoppers: Daniel Collins, Phil Jack Gardiner, Leon Moran, Luke Murphy, Gavin Persand, Danny Reubens, Chris Trenfield, Daniel Wright
Director and Choreographer: Matthew Bourne
Designer: Anthony Ward
Lighting Designer: Howard Harrison
Sound Designer: Paul Groothuis
Original Scenario Devisors: Matthew Bourne, Martin Duncan, Anthony Ward
Wigs Designer: Chris Redman
Associate Director: Etta Murfitt
Asisistant Associate Director: Kerry Biggin
Resident Director: Neil Westmoreland
Dance Captain: Dominic North