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REVIEW: ‘So far off the wall, it’s forgotten where the wall is’

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It’s more a case of Nut-crackers. This show at Cambridge Junction is so far off the wall, it’s forgotten where the wall is.

The Nutcracker is at Cambridge Junction until Saturday, December 31. PHOTO: Rosie Powell

Apart from one lovely scene where dancer Sophie Halstead does a delightful dance to Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music from the ballet, this zany production has little to do with The Nutcracker.

In front of a pink and chintz sitting room set, which is stunning (plaudits to designer Kat Heath), five performers from the dance theatre company Moxie Brawl update the story of The Nutcracker. One of them, Emilie Sands dances as well as interpreting the story into British Sign Language, sometimes at the same time.

The Nutcracker is at Cambridge Junction until Saturday, December 31. PHOTO: Rosie Powell

Our heroine Marie (Sarah Blanc, the company’s artistic director) tells us in the beginning that this is the story of a Christmas in 1996.

Everything in her mum’s immaculate sitting room is pink: the settee, the chests of drawers, the china cabinet, the radio – even the Christmas tree.

The Nutcracker is at Cambridge Junction until Saturday, December 31. PHOTO: Rosie Powell

Mum has covered the pink sofa in plastic because her brother, Uncle Drosselmeier is coming to stay.

Drosselmeier (James Harty) gives teenage Marie a nutcracker doll. She falls asleep and dreams of mice invading her house and playing a violent computer game.

Her ambition is to become a rock star but both Drosselmeier and Marie’s mum (played by dancer Sophie Halsted) tell her that is impossible. Later she discovers that Drosselmeier knows a bit about show business.

Secretly, he is a drag queen. The action moves to the nightclub where he is on stage.

The Nutcracker is at Cambridge Junction until Saturday, December 31. PHOTO: Rosie Powell

There are what my seven-year-old companion described as “alarming” aspects to this show, which he also described as “complicated”.

The mice and, at points, the dancers, have no faces, their costumes literally cover them head to foot.

This play is unusual for a family show. The original music is very loud – nothing you leave the theatre humming to.

There is hardly any audience participation, no sing-along chorus, no pantomime jokes, responses or routines, no slapstick.

It’s a morality tale with a lot of colour and some great costumes but without the fun and lightness you expect at Christmas.

The Nutcracker is at Cambridge Junction until Saturday, December 31. 

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