REVIEW: The Nutcracker

Salisbury Journal: REVIEW: The Nutcracker REVIEW: The Nutcracker

IF screaming out “he’s behind you” and “oh no, he didn’t” at a bunch of brightly dressed pantomime characters fills you with dread and makes your head hurt, then the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton can always be relied upon to provide a soothing festive alternative.

Rather than a noisy panto, this theatre at Southampton University offers a musical family Christmas show which this year was an adaptation of ETA Hoffman’s short story The Nutcracker.

Without a tutu or dancing fairy in sight, this is an exciting tale of true love, adventure, family relationships and make-believe.

It is Christmas Eve and the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeier arrives with an enchanted nutcracker as a gift for the troubled child Clara.

He wants to tell Clara the nutcracker’s story, and so starts the adventure, complete with an evil mouse queen, a baby that turns to wood, a quest to find rare, magical nut, battles between toys and rodents, and a trip to the wonderful world of sweets.

There is magic at every turn, with tricks on stage, ingenious use of the set and a story that takes young and old to the boundaries of their imagination.

A cast of talented actor/musicians swap roles and costumes, and although children will need a certain attention span to follow the twists and turns of this story, the action is fast-paced and there is so much to look at on stage that younger audience members can simply enjoy the spectacle.

The sword fights and chance to throw sweetie cannonballs at the stage in the second half was a particular highlight for the children in the audience, and they also loved the nasty mice who got their comeuppance in the most brilliant but bloodthirsty of ways.

There were plenty of songs and some touching moments as Clara’s relationship with her stepmother started to thaw and love conquered all in true festive spirit.

And the theatre has brought a taste of Germany to Southampton with bratwurst, gluhwein and waffles among the interval treats –what could be more wunderbar than that?

Jill Harding

* The Nutcracker, The Nuffield Theatre, Southampton University. Call 023 8067 1771

 

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