Nutcracker ★★★★ Southbank Centre’s Tuff Nutt Jazz Club | Until January 6, 2024

Time to create a new Christmas tradition! This updated, jazz version of Tchaikovsky's classic ballet is definitely worth adding to the annual entertainment list. In Drew McOnie's contemporary interpretation Clara becomes Clive, and his youthful imagination is much more engaged by a sugar plum fairy doll than by his father's gift of an action man figure. Distressed by his father's incomprehension of his preferences, Clive falls asleep, and it is then that he encounters an enchanted realm which allows him to escape and to experience life outside the stifling simplification of the binary quotidian reality. McOnie's charming tale inventively blends classic and modern dance movement and is beautifully underpinned by Cassie Kinoshi's lively reimagining of the Tchaikovsky score. While the energy and power of the ensemble is quite impressive it is the fluidity and prowess that Mark Samaras brings to the role of Clive that is quite mesmerising. His virtuosity is only matched by Amonik Melaco as Action Man and their pas de deux moments are thoroughly magical. Patricia Zhou as Sugar Plum also puts in an impressive performance, capturing all the ethereal and enchanting power of Clive's aspiration. McOnie has done a splendid job of respecting the source of his inspiration while not being bound by it. Here's fresh context and clever reinterpretation of the standard work that should stand on its own to become a beloved seasonal favourite.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Senior

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