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Jack and the Beanstalk

by on 26 November 2022

Jack and the Broadway Stars!

Jack and the Beanstalk

by Jude Christian and Sonia Jalaly

Lyric Theatre Productions at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith until 7th January

Review by Viola Selby

In my opinion, to make a pantomime perfect, one must first add a good dollop of glitter, a generous helping of goofy gags and finally but most importantly a gigantic amount of gleeful energy! 

Jack and the Beanstalk has all this and more, with so much colour and sequins (thanks to the creative creations of theatre design studio Good Teeth)!  From the off, audience participation is perfected by having us countdown to the start of the show.  Then through the whole perfomance, you are made to feel included through all traditional and slightly less known means, be it ‘He’s behind you’ and ‘Oh no it’s not’, to auditioning for “World of …” and getting to cast a spell together to make it snow! 

Moreover, due to the creative genius of Jude Christian and Sonia Jalalay, with the direction of Nicholai La Barrie, this is a pantomime with great twists and turn, just like a good soap opera, but also a much loved and traditional tale made relevant and important to today’s audience in a way that makes it seem natural and not forced in your face.  It is a pantomime that makes you laugh, but also feel a sense of pride.

Jack is a strong-willed young woman who wants to stand up to the ‘giant’ taxes and the evils that control Hammersmith, and never was this better presented then by the fantastic Leah St Luce, who acts with such soul that you will find it near impossible not to feel inspired to grab your placard and join her protest!  She is joined by an excellently energetic ensemble who manage to act and dance in the most robotically convincing way when playing robots, it makes you have to check they’re human.  Then there’s her best friend Jill, a fairy godmother in training, played by the magical Maddison Bulleyment, whose singing will leave you spellbound.

We also have Jack’s younger brother Simon and mother, Dame Trot, played by Finlay McGuigan and Emmanuel Akwafo, both of whom bring much needed comedy to the table with Simon’s slapstick (especially during his ‘Simon Shows’ which act as time-outs from the story itself when it’s time to get the audience re-buzzed again) and Trot’s horny humour, questionable parenting, and absolutely outrageous outfits that just keep getting more fabulous in every scene.  And of course, Daisy who made one caringly charismatic cow!

However, it is Jodie Jacobs, as Fleshcreep, who absolutely steals the show with her powerful presence and clever comebacks when there is an occasional unexpected input from the younger audience members.  Her portrayal reminded me of the much-loved Lord Flashheart in Blackadder (played by the much-missed Rik Mayall), with her wiry wit and carnal charisma, she manages to make the often much overdone evil character into a more believable four-dimensional being, whose character arc is interesting to watch.

All together the cast gel well, bringing so much energy and talent that would put any 80’s kids TV show, like Crackerjack, to shame!  I particularly loved the ‘Please don’t leave me on my own’ song where you truly get to appreciate each actor’s astounding musical abilities.  The music, directed by Adam Gerber, was constantly toe tapping, with the use of many great pop songs but also some outstanding originals (Glory, Glory, Hammersmith was an absolute joy to join in with).  I also loved how you got to see the orchestra in many of the scenes at the top of the stage, giving composer Corbin Buckeridge and his musicians the credit they deserved.

Never have I left a pantomime feeling as overjoyed and colourful as I did when leaving Jack and The Beanstalk and from the faces and the singing, I could hear from the audience leaving, neither could they (young and not so young).  A perfectly perky and positive performance, properly performed and put together!

Viola Selby, November 2022

Photography by Helen Murray

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