Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! Review | The Lowry | Manchester
The Nutcracker is the original Toy Story narrative, bringing toys to life on Christmas Eve as their younger owner, Clara journeys through a winter wonderland of two acts. Displaying challenging choreography, an iconic score and the stunning costumes of its multiple fairies and their foes, the show has the ability to bring childlike wonderment through the magic of Tchaikovsky's music.
The Nutcracker is a simple, pure and sweet ballet classic that has been a staple in companies catalogues for over 60 years. As a result, this family-friendly classic was begging for a Bourne reboot. Dropping its cute and wholesome arura without dropping the ball, Bourne’s production builds on Tchaikovsky’s vision with a sensual and witty reimagining that places Clara in a depleted orphanage.
The Lowry theatre swiftly turns from a ghoulish nightmare to a glittery dream, with Anthony Ward’s digitised set and fabulous costumes placing the first half of its production in an extravagant but reformed 1930’s recreation. However, by the shows second half, you will not be disappointed by what has been left under the Christmas tree as the staging of a grandiose wedding cake adorned with Allsorts is positioned within the centre, inviting audiences to revel in an orgy of pure joy. Bourne’s contemporary choreography welcomes newcomers to the Kingdom of Sweetieland, bringing out the classic humbug, knickerbocker glory and bon-bon for this festive treat. The New Adventure production fills the room with spirited direction and plush costumes to reconfigure the familiar Nutcracker toys with the magician’s latest tricks of creepy vintage dolls and ventriloquist dummies.
Sparkling with detail, the sumptuous production has a distorted but meticulous take on the classic, visually hypnotising its audience with wondrously rosy surroundings. As Clara (Katrina Lyndon) and her crush (Ben Brown) voyage through Sweetieland accompanied by The Cupids, the already open world of its original tale is enhanced by Bourne and his sinister handling to spread surprising and stunning twists.
Nutcracker! is a crowd-pleasing alternative Christmas offering, indulging the audience in an eccentric world that takes the Sugar Plum fairies candy-coated feast with a pinch of salt. Expanded by its Royal Philharmonic orchestral soundtrack and tremendous cast, the show is enriched by its litany of characters and marvellous scenes that keep the momentum expanding throughout its 120-minute runtime.