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Belgrade Theatre panto review: Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until 7 January

By Hilary Hopker

Last year my son Alex (pictured below) and I were invited to the Belgrade Panto last minute and he absolutely loved it

That put it firmly on our must-see list for this year.

If you’ve been to the Belgrade panto before you will know what to expect. Written by Iain Lauchlan, who also stars as Dame Trott, (main pic above, by Nicola Young) he’s quite rightly put himself centre stage in this colourful production.

James Maciver Costumes really have excelled themselves. Dame Trott emerges onto stage in an outfit that is the essence of a dairy, boasting udders and bottles of both full and semi-skimmed milk.

As the play progresses thecostumes become more and more elaborate, each one a different pun on the bean theme.

Like most pantos, the plot is fairly incidental to the play. The crowd warms instantly to Simple Simon, played brilliantly by Craig Hollingsworth. The slapstick comedy between Dame Trott and Simple Simon keeps the crowd laughing throughout. It’s such high energy that it’s no wonder that times the lines escape them and even they find the gender reversals confusing.

There are several stand out scenes. The growing of the beanstalk was truly magical. Inside the Giant’s kitchen there’s a cockroach dance by the junior chorus which was a piece of sheer brilliance. The Giant is other worldly and left me completely baffled as to how he was constructed, which is always a sign of excellent theatre.

My son laughed throughout the show. When I asked him what his favourite part was, he said it was when four children were brought onstage. Simple Simon and Dame Trott work hard with these kids to make this a fun and comic moment. You never know what children will say though and their reaction to the unexpected is where the skill of the actors quietly shone through.

If you want high quality festive family entertainment that leaves you with a smile on your face, then Jack and the Beanstalk is for you!


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