The festive fizz belonged to the orchestra
PUBLISHED: 10:29 11 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:29 11 February 2018
Review: The Nutcracker, Russian State Ballet of Siberia, Regent Theatre, Ipswich, February 9
There is no more seasonable a ballet than Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, but Christmas was several weeks ago now, and so that might explain the slight feeling in the early scenes of this production by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia that the fizz had rather gone off the festive bubbly.
One of the problems with any production of this ballet classic is that there is not much actual dancing in the opening scenes but a lot of exposition and general milling about – guests arrive at a German Christmas party sometime in the early 19th Century and the young heroine, Marie in Russian productions, Clara in Western ones, is presented with a nutcracker by her magician godfather Drosselmeyer.
At midnight, the drawing room is overrun by mice, and there is a battle royal between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. When Marie saves the Nutcracker he turns into a handsome prince and takes her to his magical kingdom. Here the action is suspended for a series of divertissements from different countries to the well-known movements from the Nutcracker Suite. The ballet culminates in a Grand Pas de Deux which includes the famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – in this production danced by Marie, who has, by now, donned a glittery tutu.
This is a touring production, so scenery is minimal, but the company have made a virtue of necessity, and projections are used to provide a colourful backdrop to the action, with clever animations that make the Christmas tree grow and mechanical dolls jump from an out-size dolls house. Snow falls in a wintry landscape as the snowflakes waltz at the end of the first half.
I could have wished for a little more menace in the battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King, whose costume was rather too cuddly toy, but the dancing certainly took off at this point. Sayaka Takuda and Daniil Kostylev danced well together as the central couple, and there were nicely done solos, especially from Yana Tugaeva in a variety of roles, including the spinning Russian doll.
For me the greatest pleasure of the evening was hearing Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score played by the company’s orchestra. They might not have been the biggest, and there were times when the brass slightly overwhelmed the strings, but this music seems to be in the DNA, and there is something thrilling in hearing a Russian orchestra playing one of their own.