Tchaikovskyâ€™s ballet â€œThe Nutcrackerâ€ is, of course, an enormously popular holiday musical tradition for families around the world. It may well be the secular equivalent of Handelâ€™s â€œMessiahâ€. For many, there may be no more well loved musical experience. The story of little Marie Stahlbaumâ€™s victory over the evil Mouse King and selfless rescue of her beloved Nutcracker from his cursed state, restoring his true princely form, is the stuff of legend. Indeed, families by the score enjoy productions of â€œThe Nutcrackerâ€ every winter, and visions of sugarplum fairies dance in the heads of children everywhere on Christmas Eve.
However, even those with much love for Tchaikovskyâ€™s bright, lively musical interpretation may be less familiar with E. T. A. Hoffmannâ€™s decidedly darker original story, â€œThe Nutcracker and the Mouse Kingâ€ (â€œNussknacker und MausekÃ¶nigâ€) and its rather horrific depiction of the Nutcrackerâ€™s nemesis:
â€œRight at her feet, as if driven by subterranean force, the ground spurted out sand and lime and crumbling wall stones, and seven mouse heads with seven brightly sparkling crowns loomed high from the ground, hissing and whistling quite unbearably. Soon the mouse body, to whose neck the seven heads were attached, likewise worked its way out completely, and the large mouse, adorned with seven diadems, exulted in its full chorus.â€
Such a monstrous foe seems likely to induce uneasy nightmares rather than sweet dreams. With his single head, Allegory Malapropâ€™sÂ Mouse King seems far friendlier, or at least more approachableâ€”hopefully there will be no need to hurl a slipper at him.
As you see, he is also quite nattily attired in a manner befitting his regal station: frock coat with tails, dressy trousers, and formal shirt. No one familiar with Allegoryâ€™sÂ apparel creations will be surprised to learn that her Mouse King ensemble is extensively, even obsessively detailed and provisioned. Take note of the shirtâ€™s delicately sculptedÂ ruffled jabotâ€”two versions are included, one integrated with the coatâ€™s collar, the other separate, for wear with the shirt alone. Look closely at theÂ frills of lace that adorn the coatâ€™s handsome cuffsâ€”they are positively sumptuous, and plain cuffs are also included, should you prefer a simpler, less showy look. Consider the coatâ€™sÂ bustled tailsâ€”the interior fabric texture wraps around the gracefully curved tails in striking contrast to the more subdued outer fabric. Â At first glance, the pants seem simple and unadornedâ€”and they are fairly simple, in the grand scheme of things, but they can be worn with or without sash. The garment as a whole is a study in attention to detail; itâ€™s surely no accident that theÂ various buttons are shaped like mouse heads, complete with ears.
For me, Allegoryâ€™s mouse head seems to walk the line between mask and actual head: itâ€™s substantially more than the former, but somewhat less than the latter. It is about a three-quarter head, with full face and ears, detailed with shiny eyes, pink nose, fur and whiskers. Allegory mentions in her included notecard (amusingly titled â€œInstructions you shouldnâ€™t needâ€) that, if you choose to wear the mouse head with prim hair, â€œmost hairstyles will require editing.â€ I can imagine this being a dramatic understatement, but the hairstyle here worked well enough without editingâ€”your results will depend on your choice of hairstyle and how you size and fit the mouse head to your own. A simple HUD that does indeed require no instruction manual allows you to choose brown, grey or white fur, along with appropriately colored eyes.
No king, rodent or otherwise, is truly king without a crown. The Mouse Kingâ€™s sculpted crown is separately wearable, not linked to the mouse head. By using the included HUD, you can choose from four different metal finishes for the crown, as well as six colors for the sparkling, facetedÂ gemstones.
The Mouse King suit is available in five different colors: Noir, Ice, Berry, Forest and Night. Priced at L$500 each for the suit only, in case you preferÂ being human or L$700 for full suites that include sculpted mouse head, crown and control HUDs. If youâ€™d rather provide your own finery, the mouse head and crown are also available separately, L$200 for the set.
Available at Schadenfreude (Lloyd 37, 51, 32).