Theatre in Wales

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Perfect family entertainment

Jack and the Beanstalk

Torch Theatre Company , Torch Theatre, Milford Haven , December-15-10
Jack and the Beanstalk by Torch Theatre Company During these austere times, attending pantomimes should be compulsory, and in particular a visit to this marvellous mixture of magic, merriment, laughter and song would be guaranteed to entertain and lift everyone’s spirits.

All the original fairy tale’s ingredients are here but this adaptation by Director Peter Doran and his Artistic Director, James Williams is their own special recipe of a story so well known yet every expected scene arrives unexpectedly.

Sean Crowley’s has created a truly imaginative, open-plan performing area and the artists certainly make good use of it.

Marvellously enormous, Dame Trot works the audience so well and her contact with the young audience is immediate and continuous: almost as though the talented Cardiff actor Dion Davies had rehearsed with them.

I particularly liked Cler Stephens’ villainess, Hilda Crankshaft who, along with her agile sidekick Fleshcreep, had an auditorium filled with booing enemies within minutes. Her costume and Dame Trot’s are so elaborate. During a wonderful first half rap performance by these three artists, joined by Dave Ainsworth’s King, I witnessed dozens of budding young rap performers rising from their seats in total unison.

There is clever use of television footage on the stage, and again the young audience identified with this and there were roars of laughter at the antics of Dame Trot and her companions as they make their way to the Giant’s castle.

Michael Aubin’s exuberant Jack the Lad is just right. He matches Fleshcreep’s agility around the set, he can sing, and he is the perfect partner for Catrin Morgan’s Princess Bethesda, whose vocal performance and charm brought an excited young audience to silence. Despite his apparent years, the King can also sing and dance and his final betrothal to Dame Trot is a match made … in Milford Haven.

Along with Fleshcreep, James Ashton takes on a second role as the singing and dancing cow, Buttercup who is happily rescued in the final act. And of course there is Janine Shearers’s absolutely fabulous Fairy Marrow, whose magic is restored once Jack has planted the beans.

Gone are the Fe Fi Fo’s, and the smell of the blood of an Englishman. Instead we have a benevolent, vegetarian Giant whose massive form dominates the stage, along with Lloyd Greyshon’s powerful voice. I am sure this wonderful creation will live in the young audience’s memory for many years.

This is a wonderful show by the Torch Theatre Company with fresh music and lyrics and a light-hearted script that is perfect for family entertainment.

Matinee performances for schools and community groups are already underway and the public performances of Jack and the Beanstalk will begin on from December 22nd to 31st.

Reviewed by: Ron Waters

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