Review: The Nutcracker at Aylesbury Theatre

PUBLISHED: 16:16 26 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:11 20 February 2013

Review: The Nutcracker at Aylesbury Theatre

Review: The Nutcracker at Aylesbury Theatre

Reviewer Stephen Bourke attends the opening night for The Nutcracker at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.


The Nutcracker, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

October 25 to 29, 2011

By Stephen Bourke

What a great idea for the Nutcracker to be performed in late October. With little risk of ones senses being seasonally jaded, two months before Christmas. It was a delight to watch the Northern Ballet perform their version of this classic ballet and to be carried away by the Christmas scenes with a feeling of freshness.

Each scene produced a magical sense of enthralment and changed with a seamless ease; add to that, the artistic blending of symmetry and colour, making the whole performance very pleasing to the eye. Although set in Regency England, not being familiar with Jane Austen, I would have taken little convincing that the setting of the house was in St Petersburg.

The Nutcracker is a tale set on the night before Christmas where the family are gathered for the festivities. Clara, very convincingly played by Pippa Moore, whose expressions and mannerisms throughout are perfectly that of a child, is excited by the arrival of Uncle Drosselmeyer who presents her with a wooden toy soldier. After demonstrating the ability of the soldier to crack nuts in his mouth, Clara is captivated by the doll which is left under the Christmas tree while she goes to bed.

Later that night Clara finds herself in the same room with the Christmas tree which has grown tremendously as has the toy soldier which is now life-size. There follows Claras magical dreamlike journey in which the soldier turns into a Prince after she helps him fight the Mouse King.

In Act II the musical score becomes more and more familiar after the appearance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier played brilliantly by Martha Leebolt and Javier Torres with some very demanding dancing carried out with vigorous enthusiasm. Prior to the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the performances include Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, French and Russian and the Dance of the Flowers. All of which, provide for a very colourful spectacle and some acrobatic dancing throughout. As the dancing ends Clara finds herself back in familiar surroundings with her father but unable to find the Prince, at which point she describes, amusingly, all that has happened but wonders if it was just a dream.

Tchaikovskys magical score is impressively performed by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, especially given that they are performing with far fewer members than would ideally be required. There is no loss in the quality, far from it, but it does leave one slightly underwhelmed by the score. At certain times it seemed to lack dramatic impact.

Overall, the abiding impression of the Northern Ballet is that of the seamless synergy in all aspects of the production, including choreography, the set and costume design and musical score were as one. There are not too many opportunities to see the Nutcracker and it is hard to imagine a more perfect family entertainment as we approach the festive season.

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury, Bucks HP20 1UG

Latest from the Berkshire Life