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The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

Unicorn Theatre, London

Uncover the original story behind the ballet.

“The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” combines all the ingredients a family would wish from a Christmas show, and not just gingerbread and sweets! It is together a beautiful traditional tale, has all the magic of fantastic costumes and decors of a festive production, as well as all the humour, audience participation, and flamboyance of a pantomime.

Located in a traditionally-decorated wooden chalet in a small village in Prussia (now Poland), introduced to us by a music-box, the story follows the adventures of seven-year old Marie during the Christmas Eve of 1805. Her excitement is shared with the audience through precise acting. Having retrieved the sad and broken Nutcracker which was given to her and her brother Fritz from their God-father, she has felt sorry for him and decided to look after him. Now, on the stroke of midnight, he comes alive and helps Marie in her battle against the evil Mouse King. This takes them on a journey of adventures, songs, and dances.

While the stage presents a magical toy-chest through which the characters enter to explore a magical world, it also hids giant mice full of scary lights and smoke. These have to be fought by the Nutcracker and Marie, joined by Fritz’s toy soldiers and Marie’s doll Clara. The King and Queen are on their side too, as the Mouse King has eaten all of their “perfect sausage feast” and transformed their beautiful princess into a monster. Will Marie and the Nutcracker manage to find the special nut as a miracle cure?

Their quest takes them in a magic land made of candies, which the audience discovers with wonder behind the chalet. This wonderland has everything one could wish for: a green lollipop lady and other “sweet” characters, swans on roller skates, and a lemonade fountain on wheels. While the children did not fail to respond with awe to the marvel of it all, the parents certainly appreciated some of the more psychedelic references!

  • Children Theatre
  • By Annie Siddons (Based on the tale by E.T.A Hoffmann)
  • Directed by Ellen McDougall
  • Unicorn Theatre, London
  • Until 4 January 2015
  • Age guide: adults and 8+
  • Review by Caroline Perret and Lucien Asbury-Perret (10)
  • 28 November 2014

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