I may have spoken before about my tendency to transform the intended message of a given sender into total absurdity. This usually happens with publicly broadcast information, as in advertisements or song lyrics, maybe because I’m just not paying that much attention in the first place, and so my receptors are functioning at remedial levels.
It happened again recently, as I was hanging around on a train platform, and looked up from my magazine to find my gaze held by the seriously creepy stare of an illustrated nutcracker who’s made his way onto banners and placards all over town of late, it being the time of year for the one ballet people will have seen if they’ve seen any at all. But I did a double-take not because my soul was being bored into by the dead eyes of an advertising figure; rather, my erroneous reading of the choreographer’s name led me to believe that this performance was the work of Christopher Walken– in which case, the “creatives” behind that poster had produced an impeccably representative icon.
The Nutcracker Suite as envisioned by Walken would be a minor dream come true for yours truly. There is, of course, the primary possibility of his honoring the inherent trippiness of this dream-tale* while combining it with the idiotic frenzy of the season, thus blatantly transforming it into the horror show it really should be by now: a logical manifestation of approved commercial celebration, often gobbled up by people who have no idea what they’re getting into– which leads me into the second reason Walken should be given free reign with this classic.
After sitting through way too many productions of this piece surrounded by families who 1) think this is some sort of toddler-friendly icecapade and 2) not only don’t have the attention span to sit through a two-hour performance, but also have neither an understanding of theater etiquette nor the desire to learn it, I’ve instituted a lifelong personal ban from any staging of The Nutcracker that features an audience whose members’ ability to keep quiet and still is unknown to me. Now, if the ballet becomes associated with Walken, and if he imbues it with the eeriness he can bring to even the most innocent of roles, those disruptive ticket-buyers may start fleeing from something no longer given a family-friendly seal of approval, something that will soon become known for keeping the kids up with nightmarish visions of square-jawed soldiers trying to bite the little ones’ heads off. And hey: the man is, after all, a trained (and excellent) dancer, so I’m sure he’d know what he’s doing from the start.
Yes, yes; I realize I’m just an evil curmudgeon who probably has a bright future in turning the hose on neighborhood kids– and so maybe I should stick with reimaginings of Scrooge figures. But admit it: Christopher Walken would probably put a pretty good spin on those guys as well.
* Among other things, think about the fact that the girl who dreams this wooden appliance has been transformed into a gallant human soldier pretty much fails to grapple with how the dangerous-jawed doll’s facial region would be manifested in an actual living being– and whether any behavioral problems and/or psychological hang-ups on his part would mar the perfection of this beautiful relationship.