The Nutcracker, Theatre Royal, Norwich, November 2015.
An extra mid-week matinee and some hours owing to me at work meant that I could catch this on a sneaky Wednesday afternoon and it was a lovely treat.
Ballet is an art form that has really grown on me recently and after successful trips to see Matthew Bourne ballets and the more recent outing to see Romeo and Juliet I was interested to see if a traditional ballet where I was unfamiliar with the story would hold my interest too.
I'm pleased to report that in the main it really did. Act One was a visual and story telling treat, I loved the way the dancers told the story of over excited children at a Christmas party squabbling over new toys just as much as I loved the spectacle of the more adult party. After the party when Clara returns to the room and is confronted by the naughty mice and the toy soldiers there was so much humour in the dancing that I felt like clapping my hands together with glee like the pre-school aged little girl next to me.
After the interval I did feel that the story stalled, don't get me wrong it was amazing to see the talent of the dancers and to hear the beautiful Tchaikovsky music, but it wasn't until the very final few minutes of the ballet that we came back to the 'story' in anyway. I do wonder if this is also the first example of the "and it was all a dream" trope too!
I was wowed by the dancing and I loved the way that the familiar and 'real' people from the first half appeared as the amazing dancers in the second but for me the highlights were before the interval when we had dance and story. The live orchestra was a real bonus and from my front of stalls seats I could really see the emotion that the dancers were expressing and also the chemistry between the cast, which was wonderful.
This was a really nice way to spend an afternoon, my heart did sink when I saw how many children were in the auditorium but as ever the majority were impeccably behaved and enthralled throughout. The adults were not quite the same and I did hear people complaining that they couldn't follow the story as there were no words. I shall keep going to the ballet as I am spellbound by it - possibly all the more so as I have no sense of rhythm or balance and at least two left feet!
The Christmas and snow scenes did make me start to feel a little festive and I imagine that had I seen it in mid-December I would have come out wanting mulled wine and mince pies, perhaps next year I'll find a production that we can take my nephew to a little but closer to Christmas, I think he'd enjoy it...