The Turbine Theatre's production of The Nutcracker: a Very Adult Pantomime is bold, extremely funny and unapologetic, leaving the audience in stitches from start to finish. Written by Joshua Coley and skilfully directed and choreographed by Luke Byrne, the show takes a raucous journey into the adult side of the classic Nutcracker tale, creating a festive atmosphere that is both filthy and flirty. The story revolves around Carly, portrayed with gusto by the talented Holly Ashman, who has had a tumultuous year. Ghosted by her ex, Jack, mourning her father's collision with a Just Stop Oil protest, and pressured into hosting the annual festive party by her persistent mother, Carly's adventure takes a wild turn with a nutcracker gifted by her inappropriate and drunk Uncle Dick. The ensuing quest for love becomes a whacky escapade that forms the crux of the narrative.
The compact cast of four, featuring Joshua Coley, Grace Whyte, and Theo Walker in addition to Ashman, delivers a memorable performance. Each actor seamlessly transitions between a multitude of characters, from Carly's pill-popping mom to her annoying little brother, the Sugar Plum Fairy, her ex, Jack and even the Snow Queen. The chemistry among the ensemble is palpable, and their commitment to providing a delightful night out for the audience is evident throughout. Coley, in particular, stands out with a charismatic performance that captivates the audience. His delivery of raunchy jokes, covering everything from politics to social satireis spot-on, and he masterfully engages with the audience. The inclusion of random Christmas songs as interludes showcases Coley's versatility as both a comedian and a well-rounded performer.
The script, while not immune to logic gaps and moments that don't quite make sense, succeeds in delivering a silly and entertaining pantomime filled with heart and laughter. The clever dialogue, filled with innuendos and raunchy humour, keep the audience engaged. And the production design by Andy Robinson, costume design by Janet Huckle, lighting design by Oliver McNally, and musical direction by Ben Tomalin contribute to the overall whimsy and wackiness of the production. The show brilliantly infuses an abundance of audience interaction, making the performance an enthusiastic spectacle of laughter. From spontaneous cheers to playful banter, audiences are drawn into the whimsical world, making the experience not just entertaining but a vivacious and energetic celebration of theatrical fun.
The Nutcracker is both cheeky and festive. Beyond the laughs and chuckles, the show ultimately explores themes of love, making it a timely and relevant choice for the festive season. The show manages to strike a balance between being irreverently funny and conveying a heartfelt message, providing a unique and enjoyable experience for those seeking a raunchy yet heart-warming pantomime. With standout performances, clever writing, and imaginative production elements, this adult pantomime promises a memorable and entertaining night out for those looking to add a touch of hilarity to their holiday festivities.
The Nutcracker: a Very Adult Pantomime plays at the Turbine Theatre until 23 Dec 2023. For more information and tickets, follow the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Danny Kaan