Jack and the Beanstalk, Review | Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

GUEST REVIEW: Sally Cook reviews Looking Glass Theatre’s Jack and the Beanstalk – on tour this festive season across Northamptonshire.

This was everything that a traditional panto should be – great fun, great energy, loads of audience participation and something for everyone, no matter what age.

I sat next to a couple who came with their son and grandchildren. They were delighted to see their granddaughter having such a wonderful time, she even danced in the aisle to the catchy songs scattered throughout the show. The cast cleverly gave permission for the adults to join in as well, by saying that everyone was a child today, so fun was had by all booing, cheering and joining in every ‘on-no-he-isn’t/oh-yes-he is’ and ‘he’s behind you’ gag.

The character who got the most boos was ‘rap scallion’, a rapping evil green bean, wonderfully played by Connor McAvoy, in dark glasses, gold medallions and beanie hat. He was the character we loved to hate as he tricked Jack into swapping some beans for Jack’s beloved cow.

Jack was beautifully played by Eloise O ‘Brian in obligatory thigh slapping green tights and wide buckled belt. She embodied the pantomime hero, and with a lovely singing voice managed to get the whole audience behind Jack, cheering him on his way as he rescued the cow from the giant’s dinner table.

Another beautiful voice came from Penelope May as Fizzy the fairy. She was a delight every time she appeared on stage waving her magic wand, although sometimes things went wrong, and Jack ended up under the giant’s bed with resounding snoring coming from above.

No pantomime is complete without a Dame, and this was no exception. Stuart Warren was outrageous as Dottie Dither with a personality as large as the dresses and wigs. He seemed to thrive in his role, ad-libbing hilariously in response to the audience who were happy to shout out answers to her questions.

Most impressive was how fresh and energetic the talented, multi-rolling cast made the show. It was their 34th performance in a huge tour that took them round Northampton and surrounding villages, (and continues after Christmas), yet their enjoyment in what they were doing was evident and infectious. How can you fail to have a good time if those on stage are clearly having a good time too and performing to make each show special for the audience? Top marks to the cast for this and also to Looking Glass Theatre for delivering the perfect blend of tradition tale, colourful characters and catchy songs for the children, with topical nuggets and loads of corny jokes for the adults.

Performance: 22 Dec 2018, St Mary the Virgin Church, Burton Latimer

For more information about Looking Glass Theatre and their upcoming productions, please visit their website.

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