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Theatre Review Magic beanfeast makes for infectious panto fun

Jack and the Beanstalk
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

PANTOMIMES are the first time that many children get to experience the magic of the theatre and, based on the level of joyful interaction during Joyce Branagh’s version of Jack And The Beanstalk, it won’t be the last time for those present.

It's loosely based on the fairytale of a boy who sells the family cow in exchange for a bag of magic beans and there's enough well-timed slapstick and topical gags to make it rise above the purely formulaic.

Mark Walters’s framed set design resembles a giant children’s storybook with its bold colours and lashings of glitter. Yet even this is outshone by the costumes of Dame Dorothy Trott (Robin Simpson) which become increasingly absurd and disconnected to the plot — at one point, he's dressed as a cross between a Swiss army knife and medieval knight.

The star of the show, he’s ably supported by Declan Wilson’s kazoo-playing King Crackpot and James McLean as Nightshade, the Giant’s henchman. Camp rather than evil, his character's based on Bruno Tonioli to the extent that his musical motif is the Strictly Come Dancing theme.

This core trio are at the centre of the production’s set pieces, one of which involves a bouncy sofa, a pot of tea and a cream cake, a scene nearly derailed when the cake falls off the hostess trolley and has to be scraped off the floor.

But it’s the cast’s willingness to muck in and celebrate the chaotic fun that makes the show a winner.

If the principal actors aren’t exceptionally skilled singers or dancers, they compensate with energy and their obvious enjoyment is infectious.

Runs until January 6, box office: thelbt.org

 

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