Friday, 14 December 2012

Jack and the Beanstalk - review

Written by: Andrew Crane (@AndrewRCrane)

Ashcroft Theatre (Fairfield Halls), Croydon

Something giant is lurking in the Ashcroft Theatre this season, a pantomime of preposterous proportions. It’s Jack and The Beanstalk, a spectacular, pun-laden treat for the whole family. Wonderfully silly and with more energy than a nuclear power station, you’d be a fool to miss it; I hear there’s a giant on the loose to eat anyone who dares. 

Photo: Paul Clapp
The celebrities spreading their festive wings for this panto are Laila Morse, (best known as ‘Mo’ from EastEnders) playing Fairy Sugarsnap, and Sid Sloane of CBeebies fame, playing the eponymous hero of the show. The latter does a superb job, evidently he works in children’s television for a reason; the rapport he builds with the younger members of the audience is excellent as he bubbles across the stage, an incredibly likeable Jack. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of Laila Morse, as ingenious as it was to cast an east-end fairy, Morse delivers a somewhat lacklustre performance that fails to hold the zest of the rest of the cast, rhyming couplets and cynicism don't seem to mix too well here.

Photo: Paul Clapp
The non-celebrity cast was fantastic, particularly Billy Trott (Herbie Adams) and Dr Fleshcreep (Jay Worthy). Adams’ physicality and timing as the comic sidekick was immaculate, a hit with the entire audience, Worthy’s physicality was equally incredible, imagine Dick Dastardly crossed with a glam-rock Lucius Malfoy and you’ll be close; exquisitely sinister, and most definitely worth enduring the howling children for. Our Dame for the evening (Quinn Patrick) was everything you could ever ask of a Dame, brash and inappropriate, and gleefully skilful at making poor John in the front row feel very uncomfortable.
Highlights from the show included a highly energetic showdown with giant foam peas being distributed throughout the auditorium, only to be hurled back onstage by ecstatic children, and a few equally ecstatic adults. But perhaps the most ingenious moment was a 5-minute sketch between The Dame and Billy, involving a cart of dairy products and a cascade of cheese-puns, it was an opus of script writing, udderly ‘Brie’lliant.

Musically this was highly entertaining; there was some incredible vocal work from the Princess (Gemma Sutton), some not-so incredible vocal work from Jack (Sloane), but this was completely forgivable in the panto environment. The songs (with adapted lyrics of course) ranged from a rousing rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s ‘I Need a Hero’, to Queen’s hand-clappingly enjoyable  ‘We Will Rock You’. A pre-interval mash up of Miley Cyrus and Elbow made the music snob in me want to attack someone with a foam pea, but luckily the panto-goer in me let it go and it was really quite uplifting. A cow also danced to ‘Gangnam Style’, which I can tell you is sight to behold.

So if you want to throw foam peas at the tallest man in Europe, see zombie pilots stagger in front of you, and watch a cow dance ‘Gangnam Style’ then really this is the only pantomime that will satisfy this season. Jack and The Beanstalk couldn’t be more of a sure-fire hit, sticking religiously and unashamedly to the traditions of panto, without ever being tiresome, it's a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

This production runs until 6 January 2013

Follow us on Twitter / Like us on Facebook

No comments: