Back in November I became aware that Scottish Ballet were doing The Nutcracker at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. Now, The Nutcracker is one of my all time favourite ballets and I knew that P would rather eat his own eyeballs than go see it with me. I also knew that my colleagues were well overdue a good social event that wasn’t just a pub trip. I sent an email round (not long after this I gained the additional title of Social Secretary. Serves me right.) Anyway, we ended up with a small group of us heading over to The Festival Theatre on Wednesday 20th December for a bit of Christmassy fun.
One of our group had never seen The Nutcracker before, nor had she ever seen ballet before. She was worried it would be a bit too serious and she wouldn’t get it. Let me take this opportunity to say that, if you’re in the same boat and unsure of whether you’d enjoy ballet, The Nutcracker is a great place to start. It’s fun and beautiful and most productions are very easy to follow. Plus, you’ll recognise a lot of the music. I’m pleased to say that my friend enjoyed it and thinks we should go again next year.
We were lucky enough to get seats right at the front of the dress circle, but all the way off the the far right. This meant we had an almost perfect view of the stage, except the far right corner. This turned out not to matter at all – there were very few occasions when I couldn’t see what was going on and, thanks to the symmetry of the performance, none when I felt like I’d missed anything. Plus, we could clearly see the orchestra – always a treat.
I was impressed by the number of children on stage during the party scenes, how long they got to be there and how well they did. They rush around, causing mischief and opening presents, meanwhile their grown up parents look on, sipping drinks and dancing together. Soon though, the party ends and little Clara is left to fall asleep, clutching her new beloved nutcracker. Here, the real magic starts. The first act closes with Constance Daverney as the Snow Queen, welcoming Clara and dancing among the snowflakes before Clara climbs into a sled for the second act.
Here we finally meet The Sugar Plum Fairy. Is it just me? Is it because I’m a big kid deep down inside? Or is the first appearance of the Sugar Plum Fairy always exciting? This Fairy is played perfectly by Sophie Martin and it’s here that the music, the dance and the set came together mre harmoniously for me. This is where I started to feel Christmassy.
The rest of the act has a series of dances performed for Clara by various characters (some a little dated, but then, Clara is a ictorianv child with a victorian child’s experiences and understanding of the world, so we’ll forgive her her dreams.) After the usual array of characters and a return of TSPF, our magician, Drosselmeyer whisks everything away, and Clara is discovered, fast asleep, by her parents, who carry her to bed.
Which is where I then carried myself. Happy, feeling festive and accepting of the fact that I will be humming Tchaikovsky to myself for the next three weeks. My friend who’s new to the ballet is right – we should definitely do this again next year.