Before you invite Granny along to this, erm, unusual version of The Nutcracker, note the ‘A Very Adult Pantomime’ subtitle. With a sexed-up Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse King replaced by an Andrew Tate-endorsing love rat and a very literal Nutcracker, there are nods to the original story but with incredibly kinky twists. Though Tchaikovsky aficionados may be in for a surprise, it certainly entertained.
To put it lightly, the protagonist Carly has had a tough year. She has navigated a messy breakup, the death of her father and an eccentric home life However, an unusual gift from her inappropriate uncle instigates a change of fortune and she begins to wreak revenge on her wastrel ex.
The Nutcracker has all the ingredients of a traditional panto. There’s the chaotic, messy scene, audience participation and a rowdy rendition of the song of the year (Kylie’s Padam Padam, of course, what else could it be?). The cast were brilliant and had tangible chemistry. Theo Walker’s chameleon-like flitting between characters was a particular joy.
Something tells me subtlety wouldn’t be something favoured by The Nutcracker’s audience
Sometimes nuance was lacking in the delivery of punchlines. However perhaps this carefree style is the whole point: something tells me that subtlety wouldn’t be favoured by The Nutcracker’s audience who are just looking for a raucous night out. The script was light on the derisive political snubs usually found in pantomime, but hey, we get enough of that in the real world. Instead, references to Just Stop Oil protests, the Roman Empire and Gen-Z snowflakes were left to carry the zeitgeist.
Eschewing consumerism in favour of camp, The Nutcracker is a welcome reprieve from the sickly-sweet aftertaste left by many feel-good festivities. It was a hearty reminder that sometimes it is just more fun to be naughty, not nice.
• The Nutcracker plays at The Turbine until 23 December 2023