Jo Turbitt finds much to love in this new interpretation of a classic.
Bourne's Nutcracker is a big bag of childlike treats. The whole show is like a fizzy gobstopper: act one is the hard shell you suck at and work through to find a fizzy, gooey and sweet-filled centre that packs a punch on your taste buds as you enjoy every burst of flavour.
Idiosyncrasies and traces of traditional narrative ballet exist in smatterings in the structure and storytelling, but that's where it ends. Come prepared to laugh and to watch classical ballet stripped of tutus and dozens of pas de deuxs and replaced by scenes packed with ideas, choreographic jokes and Bourne's quirky sense of humour. He directs his choreography, drawing our attention to moments on the stage like a film director would with a camera. He manipulates the classic story, rips it apart and then reassembles it to produce a piece which is his artistic response to the score, not the story.
He injects his love of comedy, Hollywood musicals and fun into this piece, resulting in some hilarious moments and a show which is camper than Christmas. A stand-out moment for me was when Clara's duet with the Nutcracker turns into a squad of Busby Berkley Adonises. His Andy Williams skating number made me giggle too!
The ensemble are slick, dancing every step, hitting every moment and acting in synch with each other. The physicality of the individual personalities are brilliantly portrayed as cartoonish caricatures of sweets; you can taste the sweet bonbons and the tangy liquorice in their movements. The flavours burst onto the stage like a vivacious fizzy sherbet fountain. Bourne's characters pop-out of the stage like those in a Disney film: a gutsy heroine, excellent baddies and wonderful supporting characters. Bourne's movement direction, which stokes the fire of the pace of the story, is very well suited; more so here than in his previous production of Car Man. It's not all sweetness and light, however. Like any good story there is a darker side; the scary moments in the darker ideas which Bourne depicts on stage emphasises the Technicolor of the fun side.
Bourne's Nutcracker is a delicious treat for anyone looking for a brilliant Christmas show. If you're looking for the traditional—steer clear; if what you're up for is an evening that's as fizzy and tantalising as a bottle of champagne, then buy your tickets now!