Claiming to be the ‘perfect Christmas tale’, this ‘the very adult pantomime’ tells the story of Carlie. A year ago, her dad was killed by a collision caused by a Just Stop Oil protest, causing him to crash into a petrol station (isn’t it ironic). She’s been dumped by her boyfriend and now, to top it all off, her pill-popping Mum (who thinks every noise is an alarm to take another Xanax) is insistent on still throwing their annual festive party to try to prove that (as we British do) everyone is coping just fine. But when Carlie receives a wooden nutcracker in the shape of a soldier, from her inappropriate, drunk uncle, christmas starts to look very different to what she was expecting.
Written by Josh Coley (who plays the hilarious drug addict mother and cocaine blowing fairy godmother), The Nutcracker is a real show of two halves and both feel very different. The pill popping mother (whilst not being as prominent in the second half) seems to have almost forgotten her addiction and sobered up for her daughter in act 2. This character could have been better spread out across the whole show to show the change in character (if there was supposed to be one) and have another character playing the fairy godmother. Both parts steal the show but with one actor playing both, we don’t get to see how they each progress.
Tik Toker star and Musical Theatre graduate Theo Walker plays our camp fairy with all the glitter and sparkle you could roll him in and he seems most comfortable in this role. He also plays our title character (when it comes to life) and shows a versatility to his acting skills and his singing really improves in act 2.
When the nutcracker first comes to life, he can only speak broken, yoda-like, English but he must be a very quick learner because after five minutes he seems to have grasped the English language which means either this wooden toy is very intelligent or it was an oversight in the script.
I liked the concept of the sleazy ex boyfriend being given the ultimate comeuppance when he doesn’t accept that ‘no means no’ and loses his manhood to Carlie’s Christmas ‘nutcracker’. But the power seemed to be reversed at the end when she gives the Crown Jewels back to him in order to save her one true love. Or did she kill him – I can’t be sure).
Since COVID, we have all been living in a cost of living crisis and money is tighter than ever. And as the cost of everything has risen, so have ticket prices to the theatre. You can now expect to pay up to around £400 for a ticket to a west end show and off west end productions seem to have soared as well.
The Nutcracker is a bit of Christmas fun, but at up to £36.50 per ticket, this pantomime in Battersea, feels like a bit of a kick in the nuts financially and just didn’t have me cracking up. And as for a ‘very adult pantomime’ compared to some I’ve seen in the past, this was pretty PG. Bah humbug.
Reviewed by West End Wilma