Moscow City Ballet’s The Nutcracker – Manchester Palace Theatre

I’m so mad that the penis guy didn’t get his own bow. He wasn’t just a frame, meant to display the princess. He was his own man! And for the attention his junk got, his peen should have got it’s own bow too! I was like, ‘Come on, big fella. Your crotch looks like a cat’s face – wear a cup!’

Anyway, this review is already off to a flying start! I saw Moscow City Ballet’s The Nutcracker at Manchester’s Opera House the other day and from my tenor already I’m sure you’ve already got the gist of how much I ‘got’ the ballet. Now this is me, the guy who LOVES anything on stage – any kind of dancing, any kind of music, any kind of singing, any kind of performance. But The Nutcracker… It just didn’t do it for me.

Yes, it was graceful and beautiful and charming as fuck, but I just didn’t enjoy it. It’s not as exciting as Billy Elliot makes it look.

I think it’s because I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I didn’t understand any narrative. I got that there are two kids and one of them is a shit who picks on his sister. Then Santa Claus shows up. He gives her a nutcracker and then turns into a wizard. Then the girl is kidnapped by a mouse king with three heads and has a wild acid trip in the woods full of cultural appropriation. And then she’s actually in bed, the wizard was the butler and the nutcracker was actually a bush?

I only know the actual story because I read it in the programme on the train home. The nutcracker is changed into a handsome prince to rescue the princess from the mouse king who’s kidnapped her but then gets cocky and the wizard screws him over. Honestly, I’ve no idea. It was nothing like Barbie in The Nutcracker. I like knowing what’s happening and I think because I didn’t have a Scooby Doo what was going on, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have.

The ballet dancing was amazing, though, don’t get me wrong. I just think that ballet as a genre may not be for me. I’m going to focus on what was great about the show, taking my personal feelings out of it.

The dancing was perfect. Everything was synchronised perfectly! Moscow knows how to whip its kids [Ed: especially the gays] into shape! I also need to fiercely tip my hat to the band. They played consistently flawlessly for two hours, so they get all of the props from me. I thought throughout the ballet that their fingers and lips must be absolutely in agony from their playing.

Also, the chorus dancers deserve so much credit it’s unreal. They spent so long stood in rows at the side of the stage holding the exact same position, either on their toes or mid-plie for 15/20 minutes at a time. I was astounded and occasionally I could see the pain behind their smiles. They were troopers!

There is one thing I have to address, and if you know The Nutcracker well don’t come for me if this has been in it since it was very first written, but the dream that the princess has whilst she’s unconscious in the forest in which people from different countries dance in their native ways really made me think ‘This isn’t okay!’ – and I don’t think it’s just my inner-Tumblr coming out.

They had dancers from India, Spain, China and Austria (I think – they were wearing lederhosen). India was the usual palms together, head side to side thing, and Austria was a lot of the Cossack dancing. Spain was a pair of matadors and a flamenco dancer and China was appalling.

Instead of the only two Asian guys in the ensemble playing the two Chinese dancers, they played the matadors instead. Two random white guys played the Chinese dancers, just holding up one finger in each hand and with lines drawn either side of their eyes. I wasn’t sure whether I wasn’t supposed to be not okay with it, because I wasn’t! Maybe the evil mouse king did it to fire up the social justice warriors? Or maybe he’s just a massive racist? Tchaikovsky, explain yourself! [Ed: Note also that And Then There Were None, which also used to have lots of racist baggage, was brought fully into the modern world without losing anything.]

Also my MVP was the butler/Santa/wizard. He made me smile, was a fab dancer, and wore black tights so I wasn’t distracted by his peen. One sec so I can get my programme to give you his name – it’s Russian and hard to spell… Talgat Kozhabaev, and his name in the show was Drosselmeier. He was the princess’s godfather. Who’da thunk?

Anyway, if you like ballet, I’d recommend this show. It’s classy and I’m not. I like my stories with a bang, and the confetti cannon fire in this show that made me shit myself doesn’t count. My review doesn’t do it justice and reading back over it doesn’t even make any sense, but if you enjoyed reading it, then I’ve done my job. [Ed: If you didn’t, read his Rocky Horror review instead – it’s much funnier!]

The Moscow City Ballet’s The Nutcracker is still touring and you can get locations, dates and tickets on the ATG website.

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