Jack and the Beanstalk review

by Stewart Pringle

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© Tristram Kenton

★★★★

They’ve changed the guard at the Lyric panto, West London’s smart-arse alternative to Hackney’s cosy seasonal leviathan. The superb Tom Wells (who has a major hit over at the Bush right now with ‘Jumpers for Goalposts’) has taken over as writer, with longtime associate director Dan Herd stepping up to the top job. And it’s quite possibly better than ever.

Show regular Steven Webb is a flashbang of charisma as wannabe florist Sprout, while Nigel Richards swishes and swooshes his way through a highlight performance as rent collector Mr Fleshcreep. Howard Ward’s dame is a shade too pallid, and his tussle with a horrifying pantomime cow too restrained, but Herd’s rollicking direction keeps on coming on.

Wells’s script is the silver bullet, skewering more pop-culture references than a nail-bomb in the ‘Family Guy’ studio, while managing a surprisingly sweet love story and some subtle LGBTwists.

There’s a bit that sees a roomful of eight-year olds shout ‘it’s Bonnie Tyler’ to distract the villain, and then they mistake Bonnie Tyler for a giant goose – because they’re eight years old and don’t know who the hell Bonnie Tyler is. And that’s ludicrous. And that’s brilliant. Your move, Hackney.

Written for Time Out

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