The Nutcracker

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan


CHARM, according to JM Barrie, bestows a kind of bloom, and “if you have it, you don't need to have anything else”. Scottish Ballet’s Nutcracker is charm incarnate, but it also has everything else that makes it a perfect Christmas treat for all ages. This opulent, caringly-staged revival of the late Peter Darrell’s choreography was first seen in 2014: it’s now back, delivered throughout with a lovely gloss of confident familiarity.

By the time Drosselmeyer (Nicholas Shoesmith) has arrived with colourful tricks up his sleeve, the Colonel’s party has been enlivened by excitable, rackety little boys led by Fritz (Jack Burns) – his sister Clara (Lily Wearmouth) and her friends are decidedly more demure!

Darrell’s choreography continually brings these (real) children and adults together in the dance: it’s a splendid family party where elderly aunties sneak sweets, grown-ups flirt and children get jolly presents. It’s the very stuff of little Clara’s fantastical dreams, beginning with her rescuing the Nutcracker Prince (Christopher Harrison) from King Rat and his small, but fierce, mice and then – as a reward – being honoured by the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy in their respective realms.

If the choreography sparkles, Lez Brotherston’s re-designs are themselves shimmering with magic, with a lacy framework for Constance Devernay’s elegantly crystalline Snow Queen and her swirling Snowflakes and fronds of sheeny-shiny baubles arching over the Sugar Plum Fairy’s bon-bon realm.

Sophie Martin is a meltingly lovely Sugar Plum; her technique is, like her sweetly gracious persona, delectable – no wonder she brings out the swagger in Harrison’s Prince. The divertissements swish past in a dazzle of bravura moments, from the jaunty hornpipe of English (Thomas Edwards) to the sensual pliancy of Marge Hendrick’s Arabian. Eye-candy with zest appeal, with the orchestra in equally tasty form.