By Anya Viljoen, Second Year Law
Bristol Old Vic’s modern retelling of The Nutcracker delighted the audience with a play infused with fantastical props and costumes, live music and magical storytelling, whilst simultaneously oozing with Christmas spirit.
The production invited the audience to join Claire (played by Mae Muno) on her extraordinary journey as she learns of the tragic tale of the Nutcracker, battles the seven headed Mouse King, makes new friends and restores the Nutcracker to his full former status, all whilst making it back in time for Christmas Day.
The play began with excitement; the sudden removal of stage backdrop which revealed a larger stage behind it enthralled the audience. The stage was overrun with actors playing electric guitars in vibrant costumes ranging from teddy bears to toy soldiers. The vivid spectacle immediately set the tone that this was a play consumed with colour, fun and personality.
Warm yellow lighting bathed the gorgeous Bristol Old Vic Theatre in a golden, Christmassy glow. The simplistic, comforting lighting complemented the variety of different coloured costumes and props - enabling the audience to focus their attention on the actors. Indeed, the meticulous detail of the costumes demonstrated the time and thought put in by the costume team to capture the personality of each role within the threads of their clothing.
The red spotty dress of the Mouse Queen (played by Gwyneth Herbert) added an element of chaos to her character, whilst the simple white top of the Nutcracker (played by Denzel Baido ) centred the audience's attention on his impressive dance techniques. However, it was the pristine white dress of Princess Curly Pearly which stole the show - adding a comedic touch which tickled both adults and children.
The professionalism and ability of the actors was particularly striking as they deftly transitioned between different roles. Guy Hughes (played Eddie and Princess Curly Pearly) particularly shone as he crafted characters with distinct personalities and comedic flair. His doe-eyed interaction with the Nutcracker generated genuine laughter and joy from the audience - securing his character as a fan favourite. Similarly, Tristan Sturrock (played the Clockmaker) crafted an eccentric character whose ability to manipulate time was believable to the audience. Through the power of his acting, Sturrock added another layer of magic to the play.
However, it was the musical skill of all the actors that was most impressive. Most of the actors played at least one instrument during the performance. The jazzy tunes of the saxophone coupled with soaring electric guitars and drums exemplified the actors range of talents and elevated the play to another level. The use of the live band transformed the play from a typical rendition of The Nutcracker to a fresh, stimulating, and multi-layered production.
The final song energised the audience, encouraging everyone to clap and dance along. The song and the subsequent audience engagement created a sense of community - a visual reminder of one of the core elements of the Christmas season. The liveliness of the music and acting united the audience in joy and spirit, artistically encapsulating and initiating what makes this time of year so special.
Ultimately, the play left even the most burnt out feeling refreshed and invigorated with Christmas spirit. It set a precedent that the fun and excitement of Christmas can overcome any Wednesday midweek gloom - encouraging the audience to leave the theatre bursting with Christmas cheer ready for the most wonderful time of the year.
Bristol Old Vic’s The Nutcracker runs from 24th Nov – 7th Jan. Get your tickets now.
Featured Image: Full company, courtesy of Geraint Lewis
Have you got your tickets for Bristol Old Vic's The Nutcracker?