The kindest response to Act I of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker at the O2 on Tuesday – and not only because of the otiose hors d’oeuvre of crooning from 2009 X Factor winner Joe McElderry – would be to pretend I’d failed to turn up in time. Unlike Romeo and Juliet – which the Royal Ballet brought so successfully to the same, cavernous venue in the summer, on an entirely open stage – this stupendous 1991 production brims with complex stage trickery that has to be hidden behind a proscenium arch, and it therefore needs to be looked at more or less straight on for the magic to work.
The Arts Desk
If you sit in a £72 seat on the upper side close to the stage, as I did for 10 wretched minutes last night, you will see about a third of the scenery, virtually nothing of the big screen, and not a scrap of what the production can deliver. Fortunately for me, if unfortunately for BRB, there were many unoccupied spaces to enable a quick move to better positions, which rescues my review from a wholesale protest to a half-cheer.