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Jack & the Beanstalk

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The good folks of “Hackneydale” should be fine during the cold spell: they have a huge fire to warm themselves by, and the fire is called Clive Rowe, Dame Daisy in a fur-edged gingham milking dress who pulls one leg, then pulls the “udder” one, and ensures that the milk in your bottle is “past your eyes” not to say pasteurised.

Yes, it’s pantomime time in the great Frank Matcham pleasure dome on Mare Street, and Susie McKenna has produced another fantastic fable of fun and adventure down on the farm and at the top of the beanstalk, where the Giant Blunderbore, as big as a row of houses, is outsmarted by honest Jack and his sweetheart Sweet Pea.

Everything is true and traditional, as usual, in McKenna’s assemblage of colourful front cloths, cheerful dance routines and the heart-rending separation of Dame Daisy – cue big chorus of Harry Nillson’s “Without You” – and the pantomime cow, Buttercup, in her leg warmers.

The cast also includes an ice-cool Snowman from Kat B, a classic comedy duo in Tony Whittle’s Runner Bean and Jennie Dale’s Broad Bean, Chloe Taylor as a suitably over the top 'Off Her Trolley Molley' and Jaygann Ayeh and Abigail Rosser as Jack and Sweet Pea.

The Giant appears after “Climb Every Mountain” and don’t think you’ll escape a kitchen scene without flying flour and someone on hard times “kneading the dough.” That wincingly familiar gag even wrung a wry smile from the hard-bitten musos in the pit, where musical director Mark Dickman keeps a lively quintet on their toes and up to the pace.

And what if you’ve never seen Clive Rowe in panto? It’s high time you did. You’ll come out of the theatre feeling so much better about the world and yourself than when you went in, and you can’t ask more of any theatrical experience than that, inside or outside the panto period.


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