[3_stars]

16132_fullThe Nutcracker, performed by the English National Ballet, brought an enchanting Christmassy atmosphere to the Liverpool Empire, through beautifully elegant dance numbers, enchanting scenery and a villain audiences love to hate. Although after the onset of the second act, the ballet seemed to run out of steam.

After viewing the show in its entirety, there was a vast difference between the narrative content and the visual appeal between Act 1 and Act 2. Act 1 contained large ensemble performances, entertaining fight scenes between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker and moments of comedy. As well as visually appealing sets and a highly effective snow effect which combined to create an interesting appealing opening half.

The second act, on the other hand, had a more traditional focus and seemed to lose narrative emphasis and instead perused the ability of the two principle dancers, Daria Kilmentova as Clara and Vadim Muntagiov as the dashing soldier. Although the two principle leads are remarkable, highly trained dancers and beautiful performers, the second act appeared dull in comparison to the first.  This was largely due to the simplicity of the second act, and the fact that the main body of the narrative had been conducted within the opening act, which left the second with little to go by.

On a positive note the performance of  Zdenek Konvalina as the Mouse King was scene stealing. The performance emphasized his agility and strength, as well as his comedic ability. Serving as an excellent contrast to the heroic Nutcracker.

Although the second half did not live up to the expectations of the first, don’t let that put you off. The ballet is spectacular, beautifully choreographed and performed to perfection. The excellence of the first half more than makes up for the simplicity of the second.

Tickets are still available here and are priced between £12.90-£38.90. The Nutcracker runs from the Wednesday 20th-Saturday 23rd November.