Writer: Wayne Eagling
Cast: Shiori Kase, Junor Souza, Brooklyn Mack & Precious Adams
Review Date: November 27 2019
Performances: November 27 2019-November 30 2019, 7.30pm incl. 2.30pm matinees
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Duration: 120 Minutes incl. an interval
Age Rating: 5+
Brought to Liverpool’s Empire Theatre by English National Ballet, Nutcracker is a beautiful festive story, with its roots in an 1800s Russia based on a book by E.T.A Hoffman. Over the years, the classic tale has been adapted to create a full production ballet, performed and enjoyed the world over.
The Nutcracker story traditionally told now follows the story of a little girl named Clara (Shiori Kase), who is gifted a toy soldier called Nutcracker (Junor Souza) by an eccentric toy maker. Poor Clara is upset when her cheeky nephew (Brooklyn Mack) breaks her Nutcracker, so she wakes in the night of Christmas Eve to see if he is okay, and this is where her journey begins.
Depicting a Victorian Christmas, the set left nothing to be desired or imagined; every scene was absolutely stunning. The ever changing scenery expertly captured, a snowy home outside with children playing, or a luxe grand parlour for a Christmas party and more. The attention to detail to even creases in the “curtain swags”, or brick work on the home added so much depth and detail to a static set. I couldn’t help but acknowledge how much of a difference these elements completed the atmosphere, with every scene being the most beautiful backdrop to compliment and embody the season and era. The same can certainly be said of the costumes too – each and every outfit was so beautiful and elegant, perfectly capturing the essence of a wealthy Victorian family, with silk dresses and petticoats.
The atmosphere that the music created was exceptional. The gentle opening reminded me of an old music box that made me feel so taken back in time before the curtain had even lifted. The band continued on throughout the entire performance, with the most beautiful of festive jingles and tinkles. The audience had no choice but to be transported themselves into a Victorian Christmas, or on their travels with Clara to China for tea, or Russia for sweets.
The performances by all of the dancers were nothing like I’ve ever witnessed before, with the most elegant and synchronised beauty by every last performer on stage. I found at times that there were a few too many dancers on stage, which made it a little bit hard to appreciate their performance. However, during these moments, the coordination and timing was so perfect and flawless. Though every dancer shone so brightly and performed wonderfully, the stand-out performer who I wish had had more of a time to shine was the Lead Snowflake, Precious Adams. Adams’ grace and elegance during her time on stage was second to none; she had the most beautiful poise and delicate yet powerful beauty to her movement. I would have loved to have seen her take to the stage alone.
Though all of the aspects of the show can be respected and appreciated, for me as a “novice” to shows of this calibre, I found the story a little bit difficult to follow. With nameless faces, and no speaking, the relevance of some aspects of the tale, for example the giant mice confused me. Post-show, I found myself researching the story to provide some context to the production, so today I understand better. I don’t wish to spoil the ending for anyone who’ll be eager to see the show, but sadly for me I found that to be anticlimactic.
Overall, if you’re a ballet fan, or if you’re already familiar with the story of Nutcracker, I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy this production.
Target Audience: All Ages
Content: 0/5 – No Content Likely To Offend
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good
Nutcracker runs at the Empire Theatre until Saturday November 30 2019. To buy tickets, click here or call 0844 871 3017.
For further articles from Amy Taplin, check out her blog Alchemy By Amy by clicking here.