Review: The Nutcracker ******

The Nutcracker. Pic: Comp

The Nutcracker. Pic: Comp

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FESTIVAL THEATRE

Straight from the German Market is this traditional Christmas cracker, the magical story of a little girl transported in her dreams with the Nutcracker soldier to the Land of Sweets ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Peter Darrell’s beautiful choreography, wonderful music, mischievous children, cheeky monkeys, presents, toy soldiers, magic tricks, and no shortage of sparkle are all here in Scottish Ballet’s super production of the Tchaikovsky classic.

There are one or two wobbly moments, but they don’t overshadow a performance of grace, in particular Bethany Kingsley-Garner’s Sugar Plum Fairy, and the athleticism of Remi Andreoni’s Nutcracker prince.

Lez Brotherston’s set is suitably decorative, especially the impressively bauble-bedecked Land of Sweets and the orchestra conducted last night by Jean-Claude Picard never fails to deliver from the delicate playfulness of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy to the soaring finale. The suite of dances and their instantly recognisable melodies which dominate the second act is superbly executed, particularly the Arabian Dance (Eve Musto) and the Russian Candy Canes Dance (Jamiel Laurence, Constant Vigier and Rimbaud Patron). Owen Thorne is brilliantly over-the-top as the magician Drosselmeyer and is called upon to perform some real conjuring tricks in time with the choreography.

The children all look entirely at home on the big Festival Theatre stage, as befits youngsters training for a professional dance career, but Robyn McKie as Clara who is on stage virtually throughout the entire performance deserves special mention for her composure.

Word of advice to parents: If you’re tempted to start your little darling’s cultural education with a night at the ballet before she starts big school, think twice. In the highly likely event they can’t sit through two hours of classical ballet, you’ll end up in a very bad mood, the performance will be ruined for the people around you and your cherub will leave the theatre sobbing. Not the magical Christmas you had in mind.

n Run ends January 3

JOHN McLELLAN