Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Jack and the Beanstalk

New Theatre Cardiff , New Theatre Cardiff , December-19-13
Jack and the Beanstalk by New Theatre Cardiff The very best panto is one where the kids have a great time with the innocent humour while the grown-ups get to laugh at the more adult content. And with Julian Clary the star name of this panto you can be sure there were enough double entendres delivered in his characteristic deadpan manner, to make this a genuinely funny show while keeping the littlíuns happy with more basic jokes, including plenty of fart humour. Claryís bottom humour was somewhat different.

Cardiff has again excelled in bringing in a high quality show from leading theatrical producer Qdos, with a star name plus adding enough local personality and content to appeal to the South Wales audience, we even had a dig about how Cardiff City would look better in blue along with the usual put downs for Splott, Swansea and Newport.

Clary, as Spirit Of The Beans, plays a sort of fairy godmother to Jack and has more colourful costumes than it would seem possible to wear in one show and each more outrageous than the other, sporting feathers, diamante, glitter and the campest sailorís costumes known to man.

The story is the usual Jack and the Beanstalk versus the giant tale but here it is set in St Davidís On The Turn and the horrible giant is called Dai Slowly. Our hero Jack Trott, played by Dan Burton, was just right as a cheeky chappy rather than macho hunk (although he did get one of the dancing girls and one of the boys to swoon when they felt his bulging muscles).

He climbs up the clever inflatable beanstalk to save his damsel in distress, Princess Apricot who was played by Emily Hawgood. As you can imagine we had plenty of jokes on her name including, of course, being in a jam.

As the giant was a very impressive mechanical ogre with a booming voice we needed another baddie who could swoop onto the stage to the sound of the childrenís cries of boo. So we had the giantís henchman Fleshcreep played with much over the top baddieness by Cavin Cornwall.

The understated, dry asides, and word play humour of Clary was well balanced with more ribald comedy from the cross-dresser panto Dame, Stacey Trott, played superbly by Mike Doyle.

Whether it was chatting to the children brought on to the stage at the end of the show, making wonderful grimacing facial gestures, keeping fast paced banter running throughout the show, or just cracking dodgy puns, Mike Doyle was a wonderful dame. His Shirley Bassey impersonation was a hoot.

Add to all of that the usual flurry of pop songs, dance routines, pyrotechnics, bright costumes, and a few aerial surprises, and you have a splendid festive show.

It helps, of course, to have a gaggle of kids with you to raise your Christmas spirits by shouting in all the right places. I also had to explain to one of my little companions what the big surprise is that the panto dame says she will give the king on their wedding night and explain to her brother that the woman with all the lovely costumes is a man.

Thankfully they didnít ask why the Spirit of the Beans tells Jack he will need two hands to hold his big chopper

New Theatre, Cardiff until January 19

Reviewed by: Mike Smith

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