The Nutcracker tells the story of Carlie - her dad's recently passed away, her ex is an abhorrent person, her mum's taking pills at every opportunity, and her brother is... what you might expect of a teenage boy.
Feeling alone and with the weight of the world on her shoulders, Carlie is gifted a magical Nutcracker who comes to life, quickly sleeps with her and then takes revenge on her nasty ex boyfriend Jack by biting off his... well, you can fill in the blank!
Jack seeks revenge by capturing the Nutcracker and the chase is on to save him and give Carlie her wish for a happy Christmas.
Though this production certainly has potential, it feels as though it hasn't been fully thought-through. The script is decidedly varied, with some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, but often too many attempted jokes and topical references that might be mildly entertaining at best but don't add anything to the story.
In fact, the sense is that the plot is merely an afterthought, a vehicle for crude jokes and pantomime tropes, some of which are done well, but most don't seem to be adapted appropriately for the adult clientele this show is aimed at; not to mention the fact that we don't boo the obvious villain of the piece once during the entire show!
The script needs cutting back so that the humour can be better enjoyed, and a plot can be written that the audience can invest in - perhaps this would also allow for space for more pauses, which were desperately lacking throughout.
It's fair to say that all the performers are talented (some showing off great range through their multi-roling), but not all on the same wavelength when it comes to style, perhaps a directorial issue.
Holly Ashman does a great job guiding the story through as Carlie - she commits 100% to the material and is an engaging presence on stage.
It is Joshua Coley who (as well as the writer of the piece) is the shining tree-star of this show as Mum and the Snow Queen - he is a fantastically feisty performer, delighting us whenever he steps onto the stage, and relishing his Pantomime Dame-esque role with pizazz!
The musical numbers are generally very good and great fun, though some could be tightened up a little, and the lighting (Oliver McNally) and sound should be commended for its excellence throughout.
If you're looking to add a bit of fun and a lot of filth to your Christmastime theatre, The Nutcracker runs at The Turbine Theatre until 23rd December.
Review: Penny Lane Photo: Danny Kaan