Extra Review: an enchanted evening

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THERE can be no ballet more widely recognised – or appropriate for a frosty Scottish winter – than the tale of The Nutcracker.

Audiences left behind the Glasgow cold for the first time on Saturday night, exchanging it for the 2003 adaptation of the classic Christmas tale and an updated setting in the 1920s Weimar Republic - pitting glittering opulence against a backdrop of troubled times.

Scottish Ballet’s festive performance is, above all else, a feast for the eyes, and whether familiar with the story or not, the sumptuous set design and dazzling costumes are worth the ticket price alone.

The opening night’s leading lady was Sophie Martin, who captured perfectly young Marie’s transformation from toy-cradling child to young lady poised for adulthood – and, of course, love.

Tchaikovsky’s piece (based on the E.T.A Hoffman story) follows the girl from her parent’s Christmas eve party and into a world where the walls shift and villains emerge from the fireplace to wreak havoc – but above all, where one can find happiness (and a worthy dance partner) in an enchanted toy which might just be a prince in disguise.

From Marie’s winter white tutu in act II to the Gothic, slinky and somewhat sinister corseted Mouserink, queen of the mice, fashion fans may well be swooning over the costumes as much as the heroine’s love interest – and beaded flapper girls and highly stylised flower ballerinas only add to an air of opulence.

But the true triumph of the performance is a stunning and imaginative set, from which it’s hard to choose a highlight – perhaps the arrival of Marie’s godfather Drosselmeyer inside a giant pocket watch, or a Christmas tree which strives (and manages) to break through the ceiling.

The result is a magical night of storytelling and dance bound to enrapture audiences young and old. The reworking is a playful take on the story, at once removing saccharine touches yet retaining a sentimental view of a Christmas classic.

Scottish Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker should melt the heart of the most stalwart Scrooge, making it essential viewing when seeking out some festive spirit.

The Nutcracker runs at the Theatre Royal until December 29. Tickets cost £7-£35, available from the Theatre Royal website.