The plum performance
There has been no shortage of Nutcrackers this Christmas, but the Royal Ballet’s is still the best, says David Dougill in The Sunday Times
None of the creators of the Nutcracker, 111 years ago in St Petersburg, could have dreamt that it was destined for eternal life, multitudinous adaptations and worldwide ubiquity. The original production, immensely elaborate, was coolly received, not to say ridiculed. The ballet, with what seems to us now the irresistible, indeed inescapable, charm of its magic and fantasy, took a while to catch on.
Cut to 1934: London, and the first production of the full ballet in the West, at Sadler’s Wells, with Alicia Markova as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Cut again to today, with three utterly different versions running simultan-eously in the British capital. Matthew Bourne’s cheeky and colourful spectacular, Nutcracker!, is packing them in at the Wells on an extended run, and then tours until May. English National Ballet’s controversial caricature vision by Gerald Scarfe has just finished its first outing at the Coliseum. And around the country, there have been Nutcrackers by Latvians from Riga, Moldo- vans from Chisinau and the indefatigably touring St Petersburg Ballet Theatre. click for more