We always look forward to the Christmas show at Bristol Old Vic as a massive highlight of the year, and the 2022 edition definitely maintains that tradition. It’s a cracker!
This year’s festive extraganza is The Nutcracker, written by the theatre’s outgoing artistic director Tom Morris, directed by Lee Lyford and with original music by Gwyneth Herbert.
Now if you go to this production expecting tutus and the sugar plum fairy, it’s not the show for you. There are no ballet dancers in sight for this wacky and wonderful musical masterpiece that reworks the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story that inspired Tchaikovsky’s ballet.
The Nutcracker begins on Christmas Eve. Claire, a young girl played brilliantly by Mae Munuo, is looking for her imaginary unicorn but her parents and sibling are too busy to help. Work has taken over the lives of Martin (Kirris Riviere) and Nina (Patrycja Kujawska), while her brother Eddie (Guy Hughes) is obsessed by his digital devices. Even during the festive season, they can’t find time for their daughter and sister.
A mysterious clockmaker arrives in the form of Mr Choke. Tristan Sturrock is absolutely outstanding as the quirky, Doctor Who-like character who shows Claire how he can play with time.
He gives her a nutcracker and she is then transported on a weird and crazy adventure as her toys come to life and we all learn the power of empathy and gratitude.
On her journey, Claire meets Queen Mouse, played by Gwyneth Herbert. She was awesome in The Christmas Carol at Bristol Old Vic a few festive seasons ago, and she is awesome again.
Also brilliant is Denzel Baidoo who comes to life as the nutcracker. His range of dance moves are impressive!
The transformation of Claire’s toys is wonderful too as her parents become ‘Dog’ and ‘Baboon with Spoon’, while members of the band get involved as ‘Bear’ (Harry Bird) and ‘Lemur’ (James Cow), with Eddie becoming that 80s icon, Action Man.
The set of huge mechanic cogs and wheels, designed by Tom Rogers, is stunning, as are the costumes.
Some moments in this amazing show feel almost psychedelic. It has some dark points as in the original fairytale, but it’s also jam-packed with colour and magic.
Bravo Bristol Old Vic, you’ve done it again. Another top class and spectacular Christmas treat!
The Nutcracker is at Bristol Old Vic until 7 January 2023.
Images credit: Geraint Lewis