Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut occupies a special place in the history of ‘alternative’ versions of The Nutcracker. Created in 1991, it is an outstanding, wittily irreverent and thought-provoking example of choreographic revisitation. Without departing too radically from the familiar narrative of the 1892 ballet classic, Morris moved the action to the mid/late 1960s and adjusted the fairly silly original libretto, creating a tighter link with the E.T.A. Hoffmann story on which it was originally based. Hence a bemusing sequence in which the tale of the Hard Nut and Princess Pirlipat is enacted in Act II to entertain a flu-ridden version of the ballet’s young heroine, Marie.
The fairytale within the fairytale is more than just a brilliant coup de thé