Review: Matthew Bourne's The Nutcracker at the Bristol Hippodrome

The Nutcracker is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday Credit: New Adventures

Matthew Bourne’s the Nutcracker is about to turn 30 - and it is no surprise it has stood the test of time.

Originally staged in 1992, the production has been revived for the first time in 10 years and is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday (February 5).

Bourne is widely regarded as the UK's most successful choreographer and director and this performance encompassed the modern and engaging style he is famous for.

The production was filled with magical moments and captivated the audience from start to finish, with the raw talent of the dancers topped off by slick set and costume design led by Tchaikovsky’s famous score.

While traditionally a Christmas ballet, the performance at the Hippodrome last night had all the magic of the festive season even in February.

Bourne’s modern twist on the classic sees it start not in a room filled with extravagant gifts, but in a Dickensian orphanage where the only people showered in presents are the spoiled children of its owners.

What plays out next is, in Bourne’s own words, a story of “growing up and first love” with a heroine (Clara) who “has a lot to overcome who eventually wins through”.

Tchaikovsky’s score - now 130 years old - provides a familiar soundtrack with the audience treated to one beautiful song after another.

The Dickensian orphanage provides the setting for the first half of The Nutcracker. Credit: New Adventures

One of the most captivating moments of the performance came in the form of a duet between the Nutcracker (Harrison Dowzell) and Clara (Katrina Lyndon), a piece choreographed and performed so beautifully it felt as though you were watching a true love story play out on stage.

At the end of act one, Anthony Ward’s oppressive grey orphanage seamlessly transforms into an enchanting dream-like land to create 'The Frozen Lake'. While the dancers are all adults, the set helped to create a sense of child-like joy as they skated across the pond.

Clara then heads for ‘Sweetieland’ - a place where people are judged not by their looks or actions, but by their taste - and the characters' personalities are brought to life by their costumes. Grey nightgowns are replaced with fluffy marshmallow costumes and liquorice-printed dresses while the ‘Gobstopper boys’ and 'The Allsorts Trio' arrive.

The 'Allsorts Trio' in Sweetieland Credit: New Adventures

One of the funniest sequences came as Clara tried to enter the invitation-only wedding party as 'Harold Humbug' the bouncer (Reece Causton) does everything in his power to keep her from sneaking in.

The ballet has the sweetness of a candy shop with a sprinkling of surprises throughout, with an emotional end which will leave your heart feeling full.

  • Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker is at the Bristol Hippodrome now until Saturday 5 February. Tickets are available via