The Maurice Sendak / Carroll Ballard production from 1983 of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet.
Ballet may not be the sort of review that you’d normally expect from Sci-Fi Bulletin, but many of the stories behind the famous ballets would fit into our remit if told in any other medium, so it seems odd to exclude this. This is a new release of the Pacific North West’s production, which gave one of the world’s best known ballets something of a makeover.
Director Ballard tries to ground the production to an extent in its “real world” sections – particularly in the opening, there’s more “ordinary” movement than one would expect from a ballet – and fans of Sendak’s work, such as Where the Wild Things Are, will enjoy the designs that he contributed to the production. With a few exceptions, ballet dancers aren’t usually the world’s best actors, but the Pacific North West’s corps de ballet included both Hugh Bigney (who plays Herr Drosselmeir) and Patricia Barker (adult Clara) and each gives an engrossing performance here, as does Vanessa Sharp as the young Clara. Bigney’s Drosselmeir almost feels like an evocation of the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – which isn’t exactly the normal interpretation of the role!
If you’re a ballet fan, I suspect the more cinematic style of the production may be off-putting; however, if you’re interested in the music and a different take on the original story, then there’s much here to enjoy.
Verdict: An entertaining diversion. 7/10