A Critical Guide: It takes allsorts to make this 'Nutcracker'

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The Independent Culture
THE Marshmallow Girls (above) are fluffy and bouncy and they live in Sweetieland with the Gobstoppers, Knickerbocker Glory and Liquorice Allsorts. No, they are not from Sweets 'R' Us but from Matthew Bourne's wacky version of The Nutcracker. Bourne, the choreographer and director of Adventures of Motion Pictures, has enlarged his company to 18 for his vivacious reworking of the Petipa classic. The action begins in a drab 19th-century orphanage, presided over by the monstrous Dr Dross, from which poor Little Clara dreams of escape. Out of this grows Sweetieland, a fantasy world of confection. Clara and her handsome hunk journey through one sticky sequence after another, but, unfortunately for Clara, her beau always returns to the delights of the fragrant Princess Sugar - until a happy ending is suggested. The ballet is inventive and fun, skilfully engaging Tchaikovsky's score, but also thought-provoking and sad. (Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1, 071-278 8916, Wed to 18 December.)

(Photograph omitted)