Review: Jack and the Beanstalk
TOILET humour flushes through this year's King's panto with all the regularity of some of the unmentionables that are indeed mentioned in this retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, including a Norfolk Turkey gag that I predict will be cut long before the end of the run.King's Theatre, Leven Street* * * *
Grant Stott is the first of the big hitters to take to the stage, name checking as many local areas as he can along the way and offering a punchy rendition of I’m Sexy and I Ken It.
As Fleshcreep, Giant Bawface’s henchman, Stott is up against Lisa Lynch’s good fairy, the Spirit of Edinburgh Castle. Lynch, returning to the King’s panto after a couple of years break, is a safe pair of hands, feisty and instantly likeable.
Of course, it’s the Dame’s entrance everyone waits for and Allan Stewart as Aunty May Trott doesn’t disappoint, rising from the orchestra pit on the Forth Road Bridge - a spectacular effect.
Which just leaves Andy Gray, King’s panto legend and now star of River City. As Hector, he arrives on a motorised toilet... and so establishes the theme for the rest of the show.
In amongst the innuendo, however, there are some cracking comic set-pieces.
Dr Doolittle talks to the animals in a musical number that would melt the heart of the baddest panto villain as a menagerie of cuddly creatures assemble on stage. It’s a magical moment for kids and adults alike.
There’s also an ingenious mash-up/mime routine that surely manages to shoehorn more hits into one scene than any other panto in the land.
It’s brilliantly performed by the three mainstays who relish the word play.
As for Gray and Stewart’s take on Sturgeon and Salmond, well, let’s just say it’s worth the ticket price alone.
Topically, all the news stories of the day are there too. Farage. Tick. Trump. Tick. Brexit. Tick.
Missing, however, is any real narrative. Elements of the tale may be referenced, but the traditional Jack and the Beanstalk story is eschewed in favour of songs and sketches.
The result is a good old-fashioned variety-style panto led by Gray and Stewart, arguably the best double act in Scottish panto since Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy.
They have great support too from Greg Barrowman, as Jack, who has settled nicely into his role as King’s principal boy, while local girl Rachel Flynn provides the panto with one of its best vocal performances in years. Both display an easy chemistry.
Finishing with a hilarious song-sheet, the comic value of which is heightened by the inclusion of kids from the audience, this visually stunning and perfectly paced Jack and the Beanstalk may not be the most subtle production you’ll ever see, but it’s certainly one you’ll laugh along with and remember for a very long time.
Run ends 15 January 2017