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The Nutcracker, Curzon Cinema Screening

The Nutcracker. Lauren Cuthbertson as The Sugar Plum Fairy. (c) ROH - Tristram Kenton, 2013.
The Nutcracker. Lauren Cuthbertson as The Sugar Plum Fairy. (c) ROH – Tristram Kenton, 2013.

Last night I attended a Curzon Cinema screening of the Nutcracker. My verdict: a triumph. Clearly given the financial, geographical and social complexities of attending a performance at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, for many of us experiencing the event at our local cinema maybe our best option. From my experience last night I can say that watching a screening can be every bit as inspirational and life-enhancing as being there in person. I urge you to throw off any prejudices you may have and go along and experience for yourself the joys of the ballet on the big screen.

As an indication of how much the audience appreciated last night’s performance it is enough to report that they broke out into prolonged applause at all the high points. It was really very moving to feel the audience’s connection was so palpable that they wanted to show appreciation in that way. For me it confirmed my feeling that the cinema experience is real, is powerful and means just as much to the audience as any performance at Covent Garden. Moreover they waited for the curtain call and lapped up every second. It was extraordinarily moving.

The production we saw is the 2016 live recording of Peter Wright’s outstanding 1984 version. Everything about this production is so extraordinarily sumptuous that it makes complete sense for audiences to want to pay good money to see work of such quality. Clearly the resources that the Royal Opera House has at its disposal to put on The Nutcracker is way in excess of what even good regional houses can possibly hope to achieve. The sets, costumes and props are unmatched. The Christmas tree is surely the largest ever put on the London stage? The grandfather clock and owl are unforgettable. The setting for the Kingdom of Sweets has more gilding than the Palace of Versailles and the grand staircase gives Clara (Francesca Hayward, who is divine)and her soldier lover Hans Peter / The Nutcracker (Alexander Campbell, who is terrific) the perfect catwalk entree to the magical world of dance that awaits them.

Artists of The Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker, The Royal Ballet (c) 2015 ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton.
Artists of The Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker, The Royal Ballet (c) 2015 ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton.

The corps de ballet’s creation of the Forest of Snow Flakes is spellbinding, feet ‘flicker’, ‘flutter’ and ‘fly’ as they float majestically across the stage/snowy landscape. This alone is worth the price of entry. The climax of the ballet is of course the pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy (Lauren Cuthbertson, who is stunning) and her a Prince (Federico Bonelli, who is gorgeous). If this doesn’t send tingles down your spine nothing will. One of the great highlights of Western civilisation. Tchaikovsky’s music is simply enchanting. An unforgettable ballet at a cinema near you, what are you waiting for? Christmas?

5 Star Rating

Review by John O’Brien


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  • John OBrien

    JOHN O’BRIEN born in London in 1960 is a born and bred Londoner. His mother was an illiterate Irish traveller. His early years were spent in Ladbroke Grove. He was born at number 40 Lancaster Road. In 1967 the family was rehoused in Hackney. He attended Brooke House School for Boys in Clapton, - as did Lord Sugar. He became head boy and was the first person in his family to make it to university, gaining a place at Goldsmiths College in 1978. He took a degree in Sociology and a PGCE . From 1982 until 1993 he taught at schools in Hackney and Richmond. In 1984-85 he attended Bristol University where he gained a Diploma in Social Administration. From 1985 until 1989 he studied part-time in the evenings for a degree in English Literature at Birkbeck College. He stayed on at Birkbeck from 1990-1992 to study for an MA in Modern English Literature. He left teaching in 1993 and has worked as a tutor, researcher, writer and tour guide. He leads bespoke guided tours on London’s history, art , architecture and culture. He has attended numerous courses at Oxford University - Exeter College, Rewley House & Kellogg College. In London, he attends courses at Gresham College, The National Gallery, The British Museum, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, The British Academy and The Royal Society. Read the latest London theatre reviews by all reviewers.

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