Jack and the Beanstalk (Clacton – panto)

You don’t have to offer a mega-bucks spectacular at pantomime time. As this “Jack and the Beanstalk” demonstrates, an intelligent script and good costumes are enough to carry a show.

The usual Jack and the Beanstalk villain in Darren Maddison's version of the story is not the giant's henchman Fleshcreep. Instead we have Poison Ivy, the thoroughly malevolent sister of Fairy Meadows. Natasha Brooke makes much of the part; this is a spirit with dangerous ambitions as well as an overdose of evil.

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Gemma Andrews is the horticultural Fairy Meadows; her magic only stretches so far, however. What the absent-minded King Bumble (Nik Wood-Jones) needs as a bright lad who will take on both Poison Ivy and her (nominal) boss Giant Blundebore.

That's Paul Rich's Jack Trott, at first a reluctant hero but fired by the chance of winning Millie Hillman's Princess Jill. Harassed for her overdue rent by King Bumble (he's also broke) and trying – without much success – to keep both Jack and Charlie Condou's Simple Simon up to the mark is Richard Aucott's Dame Trott.

Aucott has a marvellous succession of costume changes; I can't recall ever seeing such a colour-coordinated Dame. The sets are a trifle fussy and the screening frieze which extends across the front of the stage hides the footwork of Andrews' choreography for all the audience except in the highest rows of seats.

The accompaniment to the songs and dances is pre-recorded, which tends to throw up balance problems. Aucott, who has a very good voice, is most successful in overcoming these. The pelting of the giant by oversized (soft) green peas by the audience is a new but successful gimmick.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs at the Princes Theatre, Clacton until 3 January.