Jack and the Beanstalk
Performed in the Unicorn Theatre 11 - 13 & 17 - 19 January 2008
by John Morley
Jack and the Beanstalk, written by John Morley and performed at the Unicorn Theatre, contains all the elements of a traditional pantomime - a dame, a principal boy in tights, a princess, a fairy, a villain and, of course, a cow. Ably directed by Eileen Bagshawe, who has a long and distinguished association with Abingdon Drama Club, it opened on its first night to a packed house, the audience ranging in age from four to eighty-four.
The first act opens with the villain, Fleshcreep, the giant's henchman, scary, but not too scary, who soon has the audience hissing and booing. He is followed by the fairy, but a somewhat unusual Vegetable Fairy. Dame Trot, played by John Hawkins, gives one of the strongest performances, as does Silly Billy (Paul Mann) and Jack who is played by Laura King. There is a large chorus of villagers, who entertain the audience with catchy song and dance routines and even a small brass band gets a chance to perform. The audience is encouraged to join in the songs, which they did on the first night with great enthusiasm, as well as participating in the usual "behind you" and "Oh no you didn't" routines. Daisy the cow (Megan Harries and Gemma Sheppard) deserves special mention for her hilarious performance and excellent dance routines. Corny jokes and local references abound but then highly original sequences surprise the audience.
In Act 2 we find that not just Jack, but the entire cast has climbed the beanstalk. Everyone wonders how the giant will be created, but the impressive giant does at last appear and Jack, of course, rescues the princess and saves the day.
Changes of scene are cleverly managed in this small, challenging, curtainless theatre. The cast were word perfect and the pace of the performance was very good. Most important of all the children in the audience thoroughly enjoyed it, but then so did the adults. I would really recommend a visit to this pantomime.
Daily Info, 12/01/08