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BrumHour was invited to review Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! by Birmingham Hippodrome.
For Brum Radio’s Interval Theatre, Dave Massey spoke to Ashley Shaw about her role in Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker. Listen here:
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Review: Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! at Birmingham Hippodrome
An unmissable production
Directed and choreographed by Sir Matthew Bourne
An orphanage owner Dr Dross (Danny Reubens) and his wife The Matron (Daisy May Kemp) get the orphans in their “care” to perform for their Governors. There is a scraggy Christmas tree and some paper chains and half-blown balloons to adorn the white tiled dormitory walls. Two boxes of gifts arrive, there are small but polite gifts for each young person. That is.. until the Governors leave and Dr Dross and the Matron collect all the gifts back and lock them away with the decorations in a wardrobe.
One of the gifts is a male nutcracker doll (Harrison Dowzell) which seems to come to life, and with Clara, an orphan (delightfully played by Cordelia Braithwaite), the audience follow them to a frozen lake and then a ball at Sweetieland. I loved the interplay between these dancers and Princess Sugar (Ashley Shaw) and Prince Bon-Bon (Dominic North).
This version of the Nutcracker uses Tchaikovsky original score whilst all the visuals are totally reimagined. There’s more than a whiff of The Wizard of Oz as the grey clothes and black and white tiles of the orphanage become a colourful landscape. Some of the clouds in the sky are actually pillows (Is this a dream?). The circular arches that make the wings almost looking like a Loony Tunes backdrop (Which also shouted lots about Technicolor.)
This is a warm, humour-filled retelling bursting with character from the moment Cordelia Braithwaite steps in front of the curtain, spots the audience and sees the word Nutcracker projected onto the curtain, the audience knows the rules are there to be broken.
Traditional ballet moves are fused with modern dance as I found myself mesmerised by this two-hour production (including interval.) The layers of storytelling add to this regular traditional story rather than detract or distract from it. It is told with a vibrant wonder.
As well as the hugely talented, dancers there are stunning costumes on display, even the mean but stylish Orphanage owners are decked out in eye-catching clobber. As we enter the world of the Nutcracker everything becomes larger than life with Allsorts being my favourite costumes as they are merged with a distinctly Spanish/Latin vibe.
An unmissable production, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! is at Birmingham Hippodrome until 12th February 2022. The production currently continues on tour until 23rd April 2022 see the dates here: new-adventures.net/nutcracker.