‘Did you see the panto here at Christmas?’
‘Oh yes, seems ages ago now!’
It’s a tough job staging The Nutcracker, a magical story set at Christmas Eve, at this time in January, but the Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet give it a fair shot and, for the most part, succeed. Staged at The Hawth Theatre, the scene is set at a party on the night before Christmas; mysterious guest Drosselmeyer arrives to hand out gifts to the children in attendance. When protagonist Clara receives a Nutcracker doll, she has little idea of the journey it will take her on – one that brings toys to life, delves into a forest of snow, and ultimately leads to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Quite a subdued audience on the night I attend (I think we’re all still thawing out for the first twenty minutes), but nonetheless an appreciative one once the dancing really gets going. There are some nicely executed performances but the show does seem to lack some of that joyous Christmas spirit. A welcome burst of energy comes whenever the Mouse King’s scurrying subjects grace the stage and the same can be said of the cheeky Chinese Dancers, whose light-footed duet gives a much needed lift to the mood. The most skilled performance of the night comes, as expected, from Natalia Romanova as Clara who leaps and twirls gracefully across the stage, guiding us artfully through the story.
It’s a decent production, if not quite outstanding. A good one for introducing younger children to the Ballet – the plot is fairly easy to follow, the characters are lively and changes in pace and mood come often enough to keep younger minds occupied. Overall, not the most engaging night out I’ve had in recent weeks (I’m still internally applauding Adam Kaplan’s performance in Holiday On Ice ), but there are enough pleasing moments in it to keep an audience entertained.
Reviewer : Jemma Gould
The Nutcracker at the Hawth, Crawley. 19th January 2016.
Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet. Curtesy of PMB Presentations.
Artistic Director: Marina Medvetskaya
Score: P. I. Tchaikovsky
Choreography: V. Vainonen