With generous helpings of Bourne’s trademark wit and fantasy, Nutcracker! takes the audience on a journey through a shimmering, ice-skating wonderland, influenced by the lavish Hollywood musicals of the 1930s. Birmingham Hippodrome’s latest production is a charmingly irreverent interpretation of a classic.
This week Birmingham’s Hippodrome welcomes to the stage Matthew Bourne’s reworked explosion of flamboyance and colour, Nutcracker! From its kitsch colours to eccentric dance sequences, it more than delivers a night of entertainment and laughs (it really is the cherry on the big, pink cake!).
The story begins in a monotonous, unimaginative orphanage run by Dr Dross (Danny Reubens) and his wife, the Matron (Daisy May Kemp). And I must say, Bourne’s clever setting-change from the upper-class home of the Stahlbaum family is almost as refreshing as the delightfully modern choreography throughout.
At the stroke of midnight, Clara’s (played by the incredible Cordelia Braithwaite) nutcracker doll becomes more muscleman than puppet (Harrison Dowzell) and takes her on an utterly fantastical journey to Sweetieland. Here we meet a whole host of wacky and wonderful creations, from chewy mean girls envisioned as marshmallows, to Liquorice Allsorts reincarnated as flirtatious flamenco dancers; it is an outburst of madness and pure pleasure.
What truly tops the evening of idiosyncratic surrealism is Anthony Ward’s marvellously outlandish designs. It is an absolute treat for the eyes and imagination, as every costume is so thoughtfully constructed to compliment the cartoonish set.
There’s an intriguing dichotomy between Tchaikovsky’s timeless score and the eruption of bizarre colour and it is perfectly executed throughout; here we see Bourne redefining a classic ballet with a fresh, alluring twist. From start to finish, it is an absolute delight to watch, in all it’s unconventionally camp absurdity.
Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday February 12, with matinee performances on Thursday and Saturday. For more information and tickets, click here.