Jack and the Beanstalk, The Brunton, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Mark Cox (Writer & Director), David Goodall (Composer & Musical Arranger), Linda Stewart / Janet Barbour (Musical Director), Rhian Reynolds (Choreographer), Robin Peoples (Set & Costume Design), Simon Hayes (LX Design)
Shonagh Price (Fairy Joan and Margaret), James Rottger (Jack), Kim Shepherd (Princess Eva), Robert Read (Mammy), Rodney Matthews (King Angus and Giant), Richard Conlon( Cronk), Mark McDonnell (Squelch), Fin and Joe Hall (Jean the Coo)Ellie Bisset,
Jodi Henry,Georgio Michalakis,Niamh Rayfield,Nicholas Troy,
Hope Wilson(group 4 dancers)
Running time

An air of anticipated Pantomime mayhem fills the Brunton’s steep auditorium amidst a sea of illuminated fairies, twirling windmills, flashing sabres and tinsel headgear as Christmas music is the warm up act to this year’s Festive offering.

In the weird amalgam of old and new worlds that is traditional Scottish Pantoland, the likes of wi fi and an ‘olde pye shoppe’ co-exist nicely in the Royal Burgh of Musselburgh in this bespoke retelling of the well- loved tale of Jack and The Beanstalk.

Jack (James Rottger) lives with his Mammy (Robert Read) and times are tough. As a last resort, she sends him to market to sell his beloved Jean the Coo. On the way, he meets a pair of dodgy geezers Cronk (Richard Conlon) and Squelch (Mark McDonnell) who persuade him to part with his pet for a bag of ‘magic’ beans. Naturally, Mammy is not pleased at Jack’s folly and flings the beans out the window in a fury. Turns out they are magic after all as overnight they sprout to a giant beanstalk that reaches right to the castle of the evil Giant (Rodney Matthews) who has robbed Musselburgh blind thanks to his lackeys Cronk and Squelch. Jack bravely climbs the beanstalk along with the equally brave Princess Eva (Kim Shepherd) to rescue her stolen golden goose. And guess what? They all live happily ever after with marriages abounding and second chances flung out like sweeties. Hurray!

The show is fair hoachin with puns and some sweetly surreal moments, along with a great peppering of local jokes and references from the pen of Mark Cox that are meat and drink to a home –grown audience. The Giant’s castle that is full of Musselburgh’s stolen booty may have looked like the back room of the Generation Game but the rest of Robin Peoples’ sets are delightfully colourful and cartoonish and his costumes are bright, wacky and very beautifully made. The beanstalk itself is rather splendid.

The professional cast is joined by a chorus of 6 young local dancers from 4 different groups, adding to the inclusive nature of this panto. James Rottger gives a polished performance as a handsome, versatile Jack who pretty much steals the show along with Shonagh Price as feisty Fairy Joan and Wee Margaret, the Giant’s big bustled wife. Robert Read is indeed ‘a wumman and a half’ as Mammy and Rodney Matthews proves that it only takes a great big heid and great big boots to make a man a giant as he stomps about chanting ‘fee fi fo fum I smell the blood of an honest man!’

This version of Jack and The Beanstalk is all an old fashioned Scottish Panto should be –relaxed, bright, cheerful, funny, family orientated, full of goodies and baddies and pretty innocent. Oh, and there is redemption! Add competitive community singing, shouting, sweetie throwing, feeding Jean the Coo with every wean’s favourite food (chips and ice cream!) and you have a fun-filled, interactive Festive experience. They may only make a nod to puppetry skills and technology but what’s that compared to two folk in a cow suit? Moognificent fun, that’s what!

Tue 25 November 2014 - Sat 3 January 2015 Peak performances £17 (£14), family of 4 £60

Off-peak performances £14.75 (£11.75), family of 4 £51

Autism Friendly performance - Sat 3 Jan at 2pm. Adjustments will be made to create a friendly and supportive atmosphere for people with autism and their families.

Audio described Thu 18 Dec at 7pm and BSL interpreted Fri 19 Dec at 7pm.