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Jack and the Beanstalk

  • Kids, Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out Says

4 out of 5 stars

A lo-fi gem of a panto from the Park Theatre.

This rough-and-ready panto update of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at Finsbury Park’s new-ish Park Theatre has a ragged charm to it – even if it feels so lo-fi you half-expect the ceiling to fall in. If it did, it would surely be part of the show: this energetic small company (five actors; many more roles and costumes) punctuate their jauntily out-there songs, gags and larks with comments about the lights not working, as well as occasionally slipping into scenes from ‘Hamlet’ (also playing at the theatre this Christmas).

The DIY approach is stressed with a running gag about how Tupperware is worshipped in the two strange lands where the story unfolds – Nowen and Gazoob; they’ve stripped the tale of its twee Englishness – and Jack’s mother (the show’s panto dame, a great Michael Cahill) is dripping in moulded plastic. Gloria Onitiri is a menacing boo-hiss villain; Paige Round keeps the energy levels high as her sweet, fresh-faced daughter; and the whole cast becomes a mariachi band at times.

There are some decent adult gags scattered throughout the chaos (although sufficiently hidden not to cause any offence), and you suspect this inventive, resourceful cast would play it a little different in the evenings with a slightly older crowd. The weekday matinee we caught was almost exclusively full of school kids under ten, and they were loving every minute of it. No celebs, no references to ‘The X Factor’, no on-the-nose 2014 gags – this show manages an old-school joy while at the same time shaking off the cobweb shackles of the traditional panto.

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£20.50, £17 concs. Runs 2hr
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