Scottish Ballet’s production contains all the key components – plus a bit extra, thanks to Ashley Page’s unusual take on the tale.
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At just two hours long, Ashley Page’s Nutcracker is a swifter ride than many Christmas ballets. Even so, when you’re under ten, keeping your bottom still and eyes focused can be a challenge.
Hence Scottish Ballet’s decision to allow families into the afternoon dress rehearsal before opening night. Little Nutcracker featured only the second half of the ballet, and although for my money, Act One with its plethora of children and dancing snowflakes would have been a better bet, it’s still a great idea.
It also singled out Bethany Kingsley-Garner as a dancer worthy of much higher status than her current place in the Scottish Ballet hierarchy.
For those big enough to go the distance, the evening performance proved that although Page is no longer in the Scottish Ballet stable, his presence is still felt. First performed in 2003, his Nutcracker feels as fresh as ever – largely because it remains so unusual.
All the key components are there – a Nutcracker doll, an enormous Christmas tree, battling mice and dancers from around the world. But Page, and designer Antony McDonald dug so much deeper into the original tale, and gave the show a whole other layer beneath the sugar-coated surface.
Whether you engage with that layer is up to you, however, as purely on a superficial level this is a treat to watch. In particular, Sophie Martin and Adam Blyde’s romantic Grand Pas de Deux may well be the most beautiful thing to grace a Scottish stage this Christmas.