Peter Schaufuss Ballet
London Coliseum; July 25, 2012
Part III - Nutcracker
The Nut Sky Cracker. Photo Peter Schaufuss Ballet.jpg [ 32.14 KiB | Viewed 4610 times ]
The evening opened with a reprise of the end of "Sleeping Beauty": Aurora and Florimund are on the bed, having consummated their union. The Dream Master then engineers a dream where Aurora inexplicably becomes Clara, well, inexplicable to anyone who didn’t see the first two ballets, which is part of the problem with the trilogy. You need to see all three to make anything of it at all. Thereon, the plot progresses as one might expect.
Clara dreams of receiving a "Nut Sky Cracker" toy and he is duly delivered by the Dream Master/Drosselmeyer. Clara's television watching is not immediately clear and it is also confusing that the Nut Sky Cracker appears as a life-size automaton and as a doll simultaneously. I know all is possible in the weird world of dreams, but it’s confusing to the audience nonetheless.
The ubiquitous German nutcracker toy can become cloying to say the least; try going to the United States at Christmas. ENB produced a Michael Jackson and a Barbie, which at least was topical, but there seems to be no logical reason to replace him with The Stig. His cheap motorbike helmet in no way made him look like a spaceman, and it didn’t exactly help matters when it fell off as Johan Christensen embarked upon a particularly ambitious breakdancing head spin. He spent much of the evening reverting to type before suddenly becoming human again. The problem continued when he (officially) took his helmet off as he became the “Prince” (surely the logic of the trilogy would lead one to expect Lendorf to dance the role?), his shock of blonde hair making him look like a child from "Village of the Damned". The ballet then hit another recurring issue, why was Christiansen then given such little opportunity to show off his skills?
I am sure there are those prepared to forgive Schaufuss for replacing many of the traditional aspects of these three ballets, after all, the classics are not sacrosanct, but replacing snow with what looked like dandruff? Yes, really! The “snowflakes” scurried on in hideous cycling shorts and skirts topped by white fright wigs shedding flakes in which they proceeded to paddle.
Snowflakes. Photo Peter Schaufuss Ballet.jpg [ 26.37 KiB | Viewed 4610 times ]
The second act became even more bizarre as poor Irek Mukhamedov found himself dressed in a lime green bolero topped by an unspeakably awful lime green wig. The hideousness was only matched by the Sugar Plum Fairy who was wearing a shocking pink tutu with matching shocking pink shoes, the former apparently made of crimplene. She doesn’t even get to dance her variation. Instead the pas de deux is danced by Clara (not the same character even if danced by different people as in some productions) and the Nut Sky Cracker, Megumi Oki making more than a decent stab at the fiendish gargouillades, which Schafuss had the decency to leave in.
As expected, the recording was bowdlerised and much too loud.
Looking back, each of the ballets had some ideas of merit and there is conceivable justification for the Freudian-links made between them. But what I find difficult to condone are the tasteless designs, the largely inane choreography, the underusing of excellent dancers, and the appalling music. It seemed such a terrible waste of everyone’s talent, and a week that will stick in the memory for the wrong reasons.