Jack and the Beanstalk (Salford Arts Theatre)
Delivers what you want from a panto on a budget.
It's Christmas, and panto season is upon us (oh yes it is, etc etc).
For fans of the genre, Salford Arts Theatre's Jack and the Beanstalk has got it all; boo-hiss baddies, a thigh-slapping hero and a special edition for 2014, the twerking dame.
We all know the story: humble lad Jack turns hero-giant-slayer after selling the family cow for magic beans. For this stage version, there's a distinct sense of the home-made.
The hand-painted sets shake and stick, there are wonky wigs aplenty and a soundtrack made up almost exclusively of S Club 7 songs. But no matter, it is all part of the charm, and this show has this in bucket loads.
The cast look like they're having a great time, and on the night I attended, they handled a particularly lively audience with skill and warmth. Groups of older people and groups of small children laughed at the bad jokes, screamed 'it's behind you' and danced along with unwavering enthusiasm.
Looking closely at this production might reveal some cracks. No doubt it's an under-dog of a Christmas show, but who doesn't love an under-dog?
Jack and the Beanstalk is at the Salford Arts Theatre until 3 January.