BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Entertainment  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 16:31 GMT
Nutcracker provides festive fizz
Irek Mukhamedov as Drosselmeyer (photo ENB)
The design is new but the Christmas spirit is intact

Half ballet, half pantomime, all fun, English National Ballet's new Nutcracker breathes sweet new life into an old Christmas fairy-tale.

The cartoonist Gerald Scarfe has confectioned costumes and sets as charming and memorable as Tchaikovsky's music.

It is a production with all the spring of a jack-in-a-box, bringing a classic Russian work bang up to date with a modern British Christmas setting.

Maybe it could only take a ballet company and a cartoonist from England, land of the panto, to put some modern-day fizz back into Tchaikovsky?

The surreal mix which emerges is worthy of Alice in Wonderland.

Contains nuts

For any who have seen classical productions of Tchaikovsky's fairy-tale ballet, it may seem as firmly planted in the late 19th Century as a Christmas tree with real candles.

But that may be a remote vision now, as obscure as the idea of a wooden soldier fashioned to crack nuts, as quaint as sugar mice.

Gerald Scarfe (L) with choreographer Christopher Hampson
Scarfe's previous hits include the animation for Pink Floyd's The Wall
How about making Drosselmeyer the conjuror a bit of a rock star, just ready to dance a twist in between entertaining present company? Irek Mukhamedov, fit and fresh, is a revelation.

In this Nutcracker, little Clara is whisked off to her fairyland adventures after slipping into the living-room to watch late-night TV over nibbles off the sideboard.

The setting of a 21st Century house is exploited ingeniously - when the Snowflakes blow in, there is really only one place they can logically emerge from and the joke had the audience roaring with laughter when it premièred at the Bristol Hippodrome.

Virtuosi

If there are any weaknesses to this Nutcracker, they may be in the choreography: there is less actual dance than in traditional stagings and the national dances, in particular, may disappoint some.

The Chinese dance does little more than crack a contemporary joke and wave a few streamers, and the Spanish one passes barely noticed.

But if the comic turn of the lively Russian dance and the vamping of the Arabic number begin to make amends, Dmitri Gruzdyev's soaring Prince and Erina Takashashi's Sugar Plum Fairy - all speed and perfection like a music-box ballerina - more than compensate.

Children will relish this Nutcracker for the Kingdom of the Sweets with its iced and cherry-topped mountains; adults will appreciate such sly jokes as Grandpa's dodgy sporran.

It is a festive treat for the eyes the whole way through, from the surreal costumes of the grown-ups' party to the whirling Op Art Mirlitons.

ENB's Nutcracker plays at the Coliseum Theatre from 12 December - 4 January.

See also:

09 Sep 01 | Entertainment
17 Jan 01 | Entertainment
01 May 02 | Entertainment
27 May 02 | Entertainment
21 Dec 01 | Entertainment
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes