Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Dark delights of a dance macabre

Scottish Ballet has arrived in town, bringing its widely acclaimed production of The Nutcracker to the Grand Opera House.

It was an intriguing staging, updating the action to Weimar Germany and drawing heavily on the original Eta Hoffmann story, which differs from the Dumas version used by Tchaikovsky and his choreographer Petipa.

It also differed in emphasis, the elements of childlike fantasy and wish-fulfilment counter-balanced by darker elements of psycho-drama, vividly enacted in act one of this production.

Even the magical moment when the Nutcracker doll came to life was scarifying, a macabre face-mask conveying the impression of a newly animated cadaver to the audience.

Central to the evening was the wonderfully expressive performance of Bethany Kingsley-Garner, as much a triumph of acting as it was of dancing. Her Marie was properly childlike and disingenuous, but capable of communicating graphically the many moments when fairytale spilled over into fearfulness and trepidation. Her act one dance with the still inanimate Nutcracker doll was graced with lovely pointe work.

There was some shaky co-ordination in the corps de ballet, surprising in a show with a high reputation. That technical unevenness marred the overall impression, but this was still a show well worth sampling.

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