The Nutcracker by Matthew Bourne
The Nutcracker is the first ballet that I ever saw when I was around 5 years old as a Christmas treat with my mum. Many many years on I was delighted to revisit the show but to see Matthew Bourne’s take on it.
Matthew Bourne has put his own spin on the show and the initial scenes are set in an orphanage, filled with grey so when we arrive at Sweetie Land with a huge amount of colour and fun the contrast is even greater. The likes of the Sugar Plum Fairies have become marshmallow girls who totter around as if out on a shopping trip and the bouncer to Sweetie Land is a humbug. The new take on it is wonderfully fresh and it provides moments of laughter during the show and the show is much easier to follow. Whilst the take is fresh there is still elements of the traditional show you expect, the music of course never dates and is played beautifully by the orchestra under the watchful eye (and ear) of Brett Morris.
Bourne’s Nutcracker is the perfect show for those that may not have dipped their toes into seeing ballet before. The costumes and set by Anthony Ward are a work of art in themselves, there was even a moment when all of the sweets were positioned on or around a giant cake when that reveal got a round of applause in itself. When we transitioned from one scene to the next I found myself gasping at the colours, the clever perspective used and the detail. One the costumes were added into this picture it really was a feast for the eyes.
The cast themselves are of course a huge part of this wonderful picture. As you would expect from a dance company, their dance ability was wonderful, their lines were impeccable and their partner work was beautiful. What really made them shine was the amount of character on stage. Monique Jonas played Princess Sugar and I was unable to take my eyes off her. Every move was complimented with a cheeky smile or a flirty glance and this really added a further layer of enjoyment to her performance. Also deserving of particular mention was all of the characters in the orphanage. You could easily tell personality traits from their performance and I enjoyed how this then translated to their characters in Sweetie Land.
The Nutcracker by Matthew Bourne is the ballet of choice for everyone, for ballet affectionados it puts a fresh interesting spin on the show and for those new to ballet it is easy to follow, full of character and a feast for the eyes.
Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker is on at Sadler’s Wells until 30th January where a national tour then continues.