'Lively' Christmas panto Jack and the Beanstalk – reviews

Jack and the Beanstalk

A witty script, a charming female Jack, and a library-stealing giant - it's the panto to beat this season

LAST UPDATED AT 07:53 ON Wed 4 Dec 2013
What you need to know

It's almost Christmas and Jack and the Beanstalk, just opened at the Lyric, Hammersmith, is the pantomime "to beat this season". The retelling of the classic fairy tale is written by young British playwright Tom Wells (Kitchen Sink and Jumpers for Goalposts).

In this version, a struggling single mum sends her daughter Jack to sell the family cow for a few seemingly worthless beans, which grow into a giant beanstalk. With the aid of boyfriend Jill and eco-warrior Sprout, Jack must climb it and take on an evil snot giant, who is stealing all the local hospitals and libraries.

Den Herd's production stars Rochelle Rose as Jack and Steve Webb as the host, Sprout. Runs until 4 January.

What the critics like

This cheerful travesty is "too much fun to resist", with a witty script, a sinister villain and enough colour and energy to play even to the younger children, says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. Pantos of the nation, this is the one to beat this season.  

Wells keeps up the Lyric's tradition of fabulous pantomimes, "cannily mixing the conventions of the genre with a mischievous, tongue-in-cheek meta-theatrical streak", says Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times. There's a host of much-loved staples: corny songs, slapstick routines and daft visual puns along with Wells's warmth and quirky humour.

"Hammersmith regular Steven Webb proves an admirable host as Sprout, while Rochelle Rose makes a charming Jack," says Robert Shore in Metro. Herd's lively production offers plenty of audience participation and pop music inspiration, and even twerking gets referenced in Wells's joke-laden script. 

What they don't like

The production is jolly enough, but there's a rather desultory handling of the necessary plot points, says Fiona Mountford in the Evening Standard. "What's lacking is the riotous fizz and sparkle of the best seasonal offerings." · 

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