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Review: Nutcracker – English National Ballet, Mayflower, Southampton

There is a lot that impresses in this, English National Ballet’s 10th staging of Nutcracker – but little more so than Giorgio Garrett’s turn as the Mouse King.

Quite how he can see in that mask, let alone throw himself across the stage as he does – and not stand on his own tail – is something of a dance miracle.

But he effortlessly battles with the Nutcracker – whose mask is nowhere near as elaborate so it’s hardly a fair fight – like he’s been doing it all his life.

Tchaikovsky’s 1892 masterpiece is splashed across the Mayflower stage, with marvellous costumes, quality sets and impeccable performances.

Young Clara’s dreamscape is spellbindingly replicated, highlighted by a spectacular balloon ride which links acts one and two.

The party in act one is very fine, with little stories happening in every corner – a forthwright Scotsman making a particular nuisance of himself.

English National Ballet in Nutcracker Photo: Laurent-Liotardo
English National Ballet in Nutcracker Photo: Laurent-Liotardo

The puppet theatre in act two features a raft of individual and group performances, culminating in older Clara’s sensational pas de deux as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Her younger version’s swift upright awakening bolt gives an unexpectedly impressive sharp reminder of the origins of the story.

Nutcracker is at the Mayflower until Saturday 2nd December. For more information, visit www.mayflower.org.uk

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