REVIEW: The Nutcracker. Malvern Theatres.

Classical ballet is emblematic of most traditional high culture, in that it transports an audience to an enchanted place, away from everyday life, if only for a moment.

This was my first traditional ballet, and I count myself fortunate to make a start with the Russian State Ballet, because the experience was so entrancing.

The Nutcracker and Christmas go together of course, offering Tchaikovsky’s musical vision of gifts and magic by the tree.

This was an extremely traditional setting: one that represented the privileged Ancien Regime of the eighteenth century, a century or more before Tchaikovsky’s own time, when the aristocrats really did rule the roost. Costumes glittered conspicuously like good manners, with every gesture, every footfall, placed to perfection in an ordered setting - which is surely ballet’s charm.

The threat to happiness is from the Mouse King and his cohorts - not a mob of angry peasants after bread. As I have intimated, this was life at several graceful steps away from reality: and a glimpse of what might be possible, in a kinder and more refined universe.

In such a universe, however, nobody would be starving.

This said, during the show real life (and presumably hunger) was not always so distant, thanks to the occasional rattle of crisp packets and people turning up rather late. But the spell held, and I only wish I could swap comments with afficionados on the finer nuances of the performances, but I cannot. I must praise every dancer on the stage, the conductor and each and every musician. They relished the music of Tchaikovsky.

It is, after all, the sheer profusion of detail which allows ballet to cast its peculiar spell.

A pop video has nothing on this, and I am hooked.

Gary Bills-Geddes.