REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk, University Drama Studio

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Handsworth and Hallam Theatre Company have produced a thoroughly entertaining pantomime. Though quite long you won’t notice as you watch the story unfolding.

A very professional Rebecca Hart plays Jack who has the unenviable task of climbing the beanstalk and rescuing almost everyone single-handedly from the giant and his evil henchman Grisly. This includes, amongst others, his beloved Miranda, Daisy the cow and Gemima the golden hen.

Hart is a slick performer, dancing in perfect synchronisation with the music, with a good singing voice and enunciating her spoken lines well.

Gareth Carson is back in familiar territory as the pantomime dame with some amusing and occasionally subtle lines and a bigger and more flamboyant wardrobe than last year. He links well with old flame Squire Goodknight played relatively straight by the normally effervescent Steve Mather.

Debbie Mather is terrific as Fairy Green Bean. She lights up the stage, literally thanks to an able lighting team. She reminds me of the kindly Fairy Godmother from The Wizard of Oz. Conversely her suitably dastardly sparring partner, Grisly is dressed in black and unfavourably lit.

The acting from all players is good. A knowledgeably eclectic music selection is on display. The dancing is fun and the choreography at times inspired. The luminous costumes representing the growing of the beanstalk for example is clever.

Pop culture tweaks pantos to good effect. Using the tardis sound effect to transport Grisly will have delighted Dr Who fans. In the end BBC4’s The Archers (Jack) defeats Star War’s Darth Vader (Grisly). Intelligent stuff.