I don't wanna go too much into details here when it comes to the traditional version, if you are interested then read this.
Matthew Bourne is known for his fun and entertaining new and fresh versions of classical ballets. His "Nutcracker!", which is 20 years old now, might have lost some of it's original freshness though.
Anyway, what did I make of it then!?
The first act works. The setting is tranferred into a grim orphanage and it all makes sort of sense and is a good thought. There is not an awful lot of dancing going on but, on the other hand, there never really is in the first act of "The Nutcracker", is there?! The waltz of the snowflakes was done quite sweetly with some mockery ice-skating (without silly inline skates but simply shown through not stretching the feet during e.g. an arabesque but holding it in a 90degree angle)...anyway.
Act II started and the whole stage was transformed into the very pink and garish sweetieland. The different sweets performed their dances, the sugar plum fairy wasn't missing either and there were a lot of amused giggles in the audience. But for me it simply didn't work. First, the character of Mr. Knickerbocker Glory was way to seedy and his way of touching Clara was too much for a ballet aiming at a young audience. In general there were too many sexual hints throughout the whole ballet which I simply found not necessary and slightly irritating.
The next problem was the choreography. The dances where quite simple and repetitive. To get an impression of it I found a scene of the adagio from the pas de deux of act two from Bourne's version:
And now from a veeeeery traditional and stuffy traditional version:
The music of this bit belongs to some of the nicest moments of all ballets for me and leads to an extremely powerful and emotional climax. The dance should show this somehow and be more than just running around to the music. A major let-down.
I'm normally not someone who cries out loud "We need to be more faithfull to the original" and I'm always open to new versions but here I secretly missed some pointe shoe glory, maybe dusty but still enchanting.
So while the tranformation of the story worked very well the dance just was not up to standart.
My verdict: You can go and see it (it is still on in the Sadlers Wells Theatre in London most of january) but you don't have to. For ballet lovers who are looking for a bit of escapism and pointe shoe magic there are more suitable traditional versions on stage in the capital.