Marie is given a rather strange Christmas present by her enigmatic godfather— a toy soldier whose jaws break nut shells. Delighted, her brother Fritz tries a particularly large nut, which is so tough it breaks the nutcracker's jaw. A heartbroken Marie tries to fix him; she has repaired her many much-loved dolls over the years. At twilight, she thinks she catches a glimpse of life in the nutcracker's eyes. Marie's godfather has the answers. He tells her the terrifying story of the seven-headed Mouse King and the battle that must take place between the dolls and the mice in Marie's house. The brave girl returns to the nutcracker and whispers to him: "You may not be able to move or speak. But I know you understand me...count on my help if you need it." And the Nutcracker answers back...
It's wonderful to see this story— often the preserve of beautiful picture book illustrations— come to life onstage. Full of battles and bravery, derring-do, sword fights and Christmas magic, it makes for thrilling theatre. Interestingly the Unicorn promises that this is the story "behind the ballet"—perhaps the more famous adaptation by Tchaikovsky. E.T.A Hoffman's German folktale ('Nussknacker und Mausekönig') was written in 1816 and inspired ballets, operas, movies and even video games.
Theatre artist Annie Siddons is the adapter, taking some of the more prosaic language and bringing it into the modern day. Her Shakespearian adaptations have been hailed as both "funny and frightening", earning five star reviews. Young director Ellen McDougall was at the Unicorn only last year with her universally praised Henry the Fifth. And it was Henry the Fifth that inspired the Guardian to write: "It's a clever and engaging show, and another triumph for the Unicorn which is making a real mark on the theatrical map."
With a spread of high-class productions, the Unicorn is definitely the place to be this Christmas.
|What||The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Unicorn Theatre|
|Where||The Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley St, London, SE1 2HZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|
21 Nov 14 – 04 Jan 15, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via Unicorn Theatre|