Jack and The Beanstalk review
A pantomime from Paul Holman Associates that finds the funny bone in us all
Well, the cost of living may be frightful, but this panto is delightful! Selling Daisy the cow for some much-needed cash is the last thing the Trott family want, but times are tough in ‘Tottering-on-The-Brink’. Even King Crumble’s wealth is crumbling.
The source of their misery is Giant Blunderbore, up in Cloudland, who rumbles the village with his ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’ in the voice of Brian Blessed. All the while, Blunderbore finds awful ways to diminish the villagers via his earthly accomplice Fleshcreep, whose dread-factor is played to the max by Darren Clewlow-Smith.
It’s a timely tale to hear this year, but seeing it brought to a joyous ending by a band of heroes as cheerful and sparkly as Christmas itself, might be the festive tonic we all need.
A hilarious version of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ early on in the show has children on the edge of their seats as the stage is engulfed in chaos and the audience in waves of laughter. At any opportunity, people of all ages are up on their feet, clapping and singing along with the cast, if not quite climbing the beanstalk with them.
Flavia Cacace-Mistry of Strictly-Come-Dancing fame as The Glitter Ball Fairy, easily out-dazzles the stage fireworks that appear beside her. Her dance is as magical as the wand in her hand, it would seem.
In the role of Jack Trott, Katie Pritchard trots out some pop favourites as faithful to the originals as one could ask for. Being fun and bubbly, Jack quickly befriends the audience and her winning positivity is shared by her forever friend Prince Louis played by Mark Read. Whatever Jack might think of his prospects as a fighter, Louis remains endearing even when plagued by bats.
A youthful troupe of dancers grace the stage in ever-changing costume and it’s hard not to be spell-bound by the magic harp in the giant’s treasury. Snippets of familiar songs get used and skewed, much to the amusement of the older children.
Dave Benson Phillips plays a sincere and naturally funny King Crumble who milks his script for every drop of comedy. The audience clearly love him as much as they love to hate Fleshcreep, whose hilarious insults might be as hard to forget as the gasp-worthy Giant himself.
As much a character as everyone else, the very mooey Daisy the Cow is a guaranteed favourite with the children, as is Dame Trot, played by Ross Muir, who treats us to a big helping of slapstick and wordplay as well as a fabulous dressing gown.
Despite much mayhem and a lot of stopping for songs, the story somehow gets told and its message feels as relevant as ever.