Taking that essence and making it work in the theatre

Helen Macfarlane as Carrie Mell in The Nutcracker Prince.  Photo by Karl Andre Photography
Helen Macfarlane as Carrie Mell in The Nutcracker Prince. Photo by Karl Andre Photography
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When it comes to taking liberties with classic texts, Andrew Pollard and Adam Sunderland have form.

Previous collaborations between the writer and director have seen The Water Babies and Treasure Island hauled from the page to the 21st-century stage in productions which have deliberately set out to challenge preconceptions.

Now the pair are treading onto hallowed territory by putting their own twist on The Nutcracker Prince, which has become a staple of the festive calendar for ballet companies up and down the country.

“I have taken quite a liberty with the original story,” says Andrew. “It’s been updated, but I hope it retains the same absurd feel. To my knowledge, the story hasn’t often been produced as a play and the ballet only deals with a small section of the story. The original tale is a bit meandering, but there are some great characters and a lot of scope for fun.”

Andrew and Adam met in 2001 in a Northern Broadsides tour of The Merry Wives and King John.

“Whilst we were out in Ireland we had many discussions about theatre and how it should be done,” says Adam. “Andy had a desire to adapt The Water Babies and asked me to read the book. I loved it, but it’s clearly a challenge to stage a story when half of it is set under water, but it was from working on that show that the collaboration was formed.

“Books like that are called classics for a reason. They have great structure and wonderful characters but it’s our job to take that essence and make it work in the theatre.”

The Nutcracker Prince, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough to December 16. 01723 370541, www.sjt.co.uk