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The Nutcracker

Moscow City Ballet,

Sheffield Lyceum

Now begins the winter of our discontent.

The last of the decorations have been stuffed in the loft, the cold winter nights made darker by the absence of twinkling fairy lights and the nation bid farewell to the festive period for another year.

A trip to see Moscow City Ballet had seemed the perfect antidote to post-Christmas blues. But this was The Nutcracker.

Everything hangs on re-creating the giddy excitement of a child on Christmas Eve.

While Maria Misheva makes a delightful Clara, exuberant yet elegant as she bounds around the stage, the rest of Act One was somewhat disappointing.

Costume and set design did little to assist the narrative from this visiting company. It was difficult to be enchanted by Clara’s magical godfather Drosselmeyer when his wardrobe resembled a seventies glam rocker. It was more Wizzard than wizard.

The grandeur of the Christmas party was not reflected in the surroundings. Instead the choreography was heavy in hand gestures in the opening scenes, the sheer volume of which masked any meaning.

Act Two is better. When Clara is transported to a pine forest the magic begins.

Drosselmeyer becomes a commanding presence, orchestrating the sequence with the power of his wand. Clara frolics among the ice blue snowflakes of her dream, as restless in slumber as in wake. This Waltz and that of the Flower Kingdom rescued the otherwise unremarkable production.

The dance of the Nutcracker Prince and Clara dazzles, but the duel between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince is anti-climactic. Victor Smirnov-Golovanov’s choreography could have delved darker to make for a starker contrast between innocence and purity of nature in the forest.

Even with the enduring appeal of Tchaikovsky’s score The Nutcracker could not rouse more than a lukewarm reaction. Like unwrapping a pair of socks on Christmas morn, it was all a little underwhelming.

Molly Lynch