Sir Despard Murgatroyd (unfortunately, though Joel Beckett swirls a cloak and twirls a moustache in proper villainous fashion, he refrains from bursting into either of the appropriate Ruddigore numbers) has opposition. This comes in the shape of Fairy Vegetable, thoroughly organic of course, in Ann Bryson’s materialisation. Stephen Uppal is animal-trainer Jack, in love with mayor (David Redgrave)’s daughter Jill (Charlotte Scott) and torn between his four- and two-legged passions. Of the former, it is Nellie the elephant who looms almost larger.
We meet other animals – André Vincent as Billy has a (literal) running joke about a white mouse. The Trott circus troupe includes acrobat Valérie Murzak whose graceful acrobatics deserve the gasps and applause which they generate, and the small children from the Central School of Dancing and Performing Arts are a delightful and very well-drilled chorus of town children. Gauntlett has great fun as the ring-mistress and the 1890s setting and costumes work very well. The only word to describe the actual beanstalk is gi-normous.