Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Nutcracker: A Retrospective

It's that time of year when you need to go see The Nutcracker. Failing to do so is simply un-American/un-Russian. Growing up in New York City, somebody took you to The Nutcracker every year, and every year you spent the first half confused and the second half unconscious.

Who is that weird and scary and vaguely pedophilloic man? What's up with these giant mice heads? This girl is kind of a brat. What is the plot of this again? Why are there dancers pretending to be from China all of a sudden? Why is everyone in a tutu? Why is this man wearing spandex? Holy shit, there's that song that's in EVERYTHING all the time! These seats are so soft and comfy, and it's so warm and dark in here... WHAT THE FUCK? That canon is jarring!

Years later, you still have the same disorienting experience watching The Nutcracker. Your community in Juneau does an amazing production of it, and your Facebook newsfeed is full of people dressing up and going to The Nutcracker all over the country. So you get that it remains a well-loved holiday tradition. (And you're especially in awe of the kids and parents who actually DO these productions, since it's a huge accomplishment if you manage to fold two loads of laundry in a weekend).

That said, watching The Nutcracker is about as much fun for you as getting your actual nuts cracked, if you had nuts. You want to love it. You really do. But all you can think about when the curtain comes up on The Nutcracker is what the fuck is the plot of this and when is intermission so you can pee and get candy.

Granted, you took ballet for three weeks (yes, weeks) as a little girl, and were promptly expelled for a combination of ineptitude and misbehavior. That same year, you found a dead bat at school and carried it around in a shoebox for the whole afternoon, desperately willing it to come back to life.

So to the extent The Nutcracker is supposed to appeal to normal little girls, it probably makes sense that you could never deal with it.

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