It’s always a dash to get a show together for its first night. But Southwark Playhouse’s ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ is just not ready. And to make things worse, there’s a panto inspector coming to watch.
Goat and Monkey’s glorious meta-panto makes your head spin right from the start. It’s like watching real life backstage at a panto and then watching an actual panto. When they do get round to the actual panto, it reflects the real life bit, so that by the end you’re left wondering if you aren’t somehow the actor here.
If it sounds confusing for a family show, it’s not. The day I watched it, hordes of young school kids were in the audience and they kept up with the plot and loved every moment.
The first half follows Box of Delights theatre company who are broke and need to impress the inspector, but their show is a mess. Quirky characters such as Matt Prendergast’s violently overacting leading man Luke Boxer and Michael Bryher’s spookily sinister techie Ivor Toolbox try to pull together a show. There are excellently timed double takes, rude noises, slapstick falls, incidents with ladders, physical japes, great songs and a Michael Jackson dance medley.
The second half is a little rushed, but it’s no less fun and has something of a magical transformation, which I won’t spoil here. It’s here that Toby Hulse’s ambitious script emerges as a homage to the power of theatre.
This ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ is supposed to be a little rough around the edges, so don’t expect a smooth, streamlined show. It’s a post-modern panto with guts, brains and imagination.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell
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