Scottish Ballet take a fresh look at The Nutcracker in this version by Ashley Page, with the story set in decadent 1920s Germany. Having first been performed in 2003 it is now revived for a new tour, with only slight changes from its conception seven years ago.
In the prologue we see a front cloth showing a girl lying back reading a book, inside a cut away section of her head we see Drosselmeyer, a clockmaker and Godfather to the Stahlbaum children. The story then moves to outside of the Stahlbaum house where the father and children are bringing home a Christmas tree. Then the front of their home opens like a story book and we find a party in full swing, oddly it takes around ten minutes before any actual ballet takes place.
When Drosselmeyer arrives at the party and gives the children a gift of a toy soldier, The Nutcracker, and a book, finally the ballet gets under way. As usual with the Scottish Ballet, the dancing cannot be faulted as we enter the world of The Nutcracker, with toys coming to life, dancing mice and at the heart of everything a love story.
With this being such a well known piece, it is no reflection on the performers or members of the brilliant orchestra, that try as you might in Act Two your mind cannot help but recall the many commercial uses Tchaikovsky’s music has been used for in the past few years.
However the one slight let down to the ballet are Antony McDonald’s designs. The first act sets seemed bare, with white walls on part of the home, plain white doors with a white dolls house. On top of that they appeared cumbersome to move, this was especially evident when set against the grace of ballerinas.
While this production will certainly not suit everyone, it does take a fresh look at the story and the dancing cannot be faulted.