A Wright tale, not too sweet

Recently landed: A Wright tale, not too sweet, Gracia's written response for Fjord Review

Flourishing his sword in the air, the Nutcracker cried aloud, "Crack—crack—crack—stupid pack—drive mouse back—stupid pack—crack—crack—mouse—back—crick—crack—stupid pack."In the beginning, in the words of E. T. A. Hoffmann, there was a "hateful" Mouse-King with fourteen eyes and seven heads who gnawed with sharp teeth at the gingerbread and sugar-plums. In the beginning there was a Mouse-King and his ragged army to defeat. A dancing cast, there on the page, their actions written as sounds, ripe for musical translation and, arguably, the makings of a timeless ballet. And though Tchaikovsky when invited to compose the score for The Nutcracker found the story to be poorly suited to a ballet, commenting that "these images do not gladden, do not excite inspiration but frighten, horrify and pursue me, waking and sleeping, mocking me with the thought that I shall not cope with them," The Nutcracker in its many guises remains a Christmas favourite.

The Nutcracker’s roots may be in the ten chapters of Hoffmann’s dark tale replete with the “hideous squeaking” of the mouse army who throw "themselves with fury" and broken glass "clatter—clatter—rattle—rattle," but the choreography draws more from Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 lighter confectionary spin that is today synonymous with all things Nutcracker. A series of pleasurable divertissements has become the focus of our tale from the snap of Spanish chocolate led by Laura Tong, to the bubble of Chinese tea exemplified by Charles Thompson and Rohan Furnell, and the quiet seduction of Robyn Hendricks as Arabian coffee smoothly poured. Delicious treats in excess to make the eyes grow wide and the head spin, Tchaikovsky’s score flies at a dizzying pace, inviting me to relate to or transform into today’s Clara, the ballet student, or Maria of Hoffmann’s original tale: ""Ah, how delightful it is here!" cried Maria, entranced in happiness". Mice become rats, Maria becomes Clara, but the invitation to view the world through the eyes of a child once more remains chiefly what this story is about.

Artists of The Australian Ballet in Peter Wright's  The Nutcracker  (Image credit: Jeff Busby)

Artists of The Australian Ballet in Peter Wright's The Nutcracker (Image credit: Jeff Busby)