Jack and the Beanstalk, Rugby Theatre, to Feb 2
It’s the height of panto season - oh no, it isn’t actually...
It might seem unusual to go to a panto in January, but then why not? January is grey and gloomy, so why not brighten it up with colour, songs, laughter and slapstick?
One of the great things about any pantomime is the tendency to stray well away from the story. So yes, there’s a Jack and yes, there’s a beanstalk - but in a nursery-rhyme style mash-up Jack is accompanied everywhere by Jill, and they fall down hills together when carrying pails of water.
Every panto needs a baddie and in this one it's not the giant, but the Great Grottini, owner of the circus. Daisy the cow takes centre stage for most of the first half and upstages panto dame Betty.
All the classic panto ingredients are there, audience participation, songs a-plenty, cream-pie based slapstick and, as my son put it, "a man playing a woman and a woman playing a man".
What is totally unexpected is an off-script scene when Jack and crew reach the top of the beanstalk. There they meet two Monty-Pythonesque sages with long grey beards swinging in the clouds. The god-like sages steal the show and are played brilliantly.
The community cast of dancing kids also dazzle with their well choreographed routines and even take part in a little puppetry.
The verdict at the end? The kids loved it and the lady behind me who had just moved to Rugby from Thailand said: "I've never seen anything like it, but it was great!" Proof, if you need it, that that panto really does have something for everyone. So brighten up your January and take the family down to Rugby Theatre for terrific entertainment.
For tickets go to: http://www.rugbytheatre.co.uk/
Pictured are Danielle Stephenson who plays Jack, Peter Privett as Betty Fallsdown, and Anna Pickering as Jill.