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English National Ballet’s Nutcracker review at the London Coliseum – ‘fabulous’

Shiori Kase and James Forbat in Nutcracker. Photo: Laurent Liotardo Shiori Kase and James Forbat in Nutcracker. Photo: Laurent Liotardo
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Wayne Eagling’s version of the festive classical ballet delivers a winning combination of narrative and spectacle that delivers to audiences of all ages.

It’s more grown-up, with a narrative that isn’t dumbed down and choreography that doesn’t hide behind lavish design or festive gimmicks. The cushioning of Clara’s dream provides a more digestible plot; she and her Prince travel in a hot air balloon. The divertissements of Act II also offer a chance to showcase the finer dancers of the English National Ballet: fiery Spaniards (Adela Ramirez and Crystal Costa); snake-hipped Arabians (Junor Souza); angularly limbed Chinese trio; and Russian virtuosos (Yonah Acosta).

The Mouse King (James Streeter) is masterfully played, dark, twitchy and menacing. And Drosselmeyer (Fabian Reimair) is a skillful puppeteer, calmly controlling the action.

Shiori Kase as Clara takes a while to warm up and the chemistry with her partners is at times unsure. James Forbat as the Nutcracker seems to be having an off day until it becomes clear he can’t quite see through his mask. The final pas de deux between Cesar Corrales (Nephew) and Kase is heavy handed in places, although their solo work is flawless – he tears around the stage in his leaps, she spins perfectly.

Eagling is master of crowd scenes. Here, they are cinematic and kaleidoscopic – swirling silken skirts and proud port de bras in the party scene, snowflakes fluttering fingertips, while the Waltz of the Flowers links joyful, lyrical steps in lines and montage. The overall shot is fabulous – just don’t look too closely at the footwork, symmetry or unison.

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The English National Ballet proves that Nutcracker isn’t just for children