Home / Festive / Festive 13/14 / Jack Off the Beanstalk, Above the Stag Theatre, London

Jack Off the Beanstalk, Above the Stag Theatre, London

Writers: Jon Bradfield &Martin Hooper

Director: Andrew Beckett

Reviewer: Sonny Waheed

[rating:4]

Jack M-R-2With the festive season now in full swing, it’s not just the kids who can enjoy the tom-foolery that pantomime brings to the stage. Adults can get their share of fun too, especially with this ‘adult only’ take on Jack and the beanstalk.

The action takes place in Upper Jumper, a Yorkshire village where dairy farmer Jack Trott, his dim-witted brother and his mother are forced to sell their beloved cow, Kylie. To add to their woes, their evil landlord is trying to evict them so he can use the land for a music festival. Add into this mix a TV talent-show hopeful who’s in hiding from the press after a drug scandal, and you’ve the makings for all sorts of mishaps, mayhem and frivolity.

The show has everything you’d expect from a ‘standard’ panto: audience participation, cross dressing, a fairy godmother, an unsuspecting hero, and songs. The humour is tinged with an adult flavour but not excessively so. It’s well written and has some very topical jokes thrown in for good measure. It does, however, slip by trying to cram too much story into a 2-hour show. The core Jack and the Beanstalk is there, but by adding a secondary story featuring the TV talent show hopeful delivers one narrative too many and, as a result, the show seems s little rushed towards the end. But this is a minor gripe in an otherwise well crafted script that brings traditional pantomime to a modern audience.

The performances, in the main, are well suited to their respective rôles. However, Ian Hallard (as Lord Fleshcreep) and Matthew Baldwin (as Dame Trott) really do shine. Their respective rôles as panto villain and panto dame are preformed to near perfection and provide a solid backbone to the rest of the production. Baldwin, in particular, proves to be a glorious, and appropriately cheeky, dame with Hallard’s villain delivering the right balance of menace and camp to his rôle.

The musical numbers are great fun too. Most are humorous lyrical re-workings of popular tunes. Unfortunately, the lack of vocal amplification and, in the main, a simple musical accompaniment results in a lack of punch and audience engagement. However, despite this, the cast perform the numbers with great enthusiasm that almost negates these issues.

This is the first production by Above The Stag since they moved from their original home in Victoria and the new Vauxhall venue serves them well. Jack off is a great start to their new season and hopefully should win them some new admirers. It is a funny, well-paced and engaging production that offers adults the opportunity to legitimately act like children. The blend of traditional pantomime and adult humour works wonderfully and should have audiences leaving appropriately juvenile and with a sly smile on their face,

Runs until 5th January 2014

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The Reviews Hub - London
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One comment

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    Well! was a little shocked to say the least when entering the stag, as we were not aware this was a gay production. There was very little in the publicity to guide us of this. We were told it had a gay theme by the guy at reception but he didnt
    worn us as how much! it was very explicit in that regard and borderline affencive. I feel it should be made more clear in the infomation details with regard to the above, as if we’d known this we would not have booked this show.