City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Jack and the Beanstalk, Kings Theatre, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 12 December 2010

Jack and the Beanstalk (Kings)
Show Details
King's Theatre
Qdos Entertainment
Paul Elliot (director), Roger Hannah (choreographer), Richard Anderson (musical director), Hugh Durrant (designer), Chris Wilcox (lighting designer), Mark Sherwood (production manager), Matt Byham (stage manager), Stewart McGill (sound operator), Maggie Kennedy (wardrobe), The Twins(magic consultants)
Allan Stewart (Dame May McTrot), Andy Gray (King Crumble), Grant Stott (Fleshcreep), Jo Freer (Princess Apricot Crumble), Andrew Scott-Ramsay (Jack McTrot), Moyo Akande (Fairy), John McManus (Lord Chamberlain), Matt Byham (Courtier), Daisy the Cow(Alistair Walker and Tom Millen), Kate Abercrombie, Donna Martin, Mauro Melim, Tom Millen, Harriet Moran, Ashley Rumble, Alistair Walker, Rebecca Wallace (Ensemble), Edinburgh Dance Academy (juvenilles): Richard Anderson, Andy Mitchell, Andy Rankin, Gavin Spowart, Gordon McNeil (King's Theatre Orchestra)
Running time: 

Everyone (juist aboot!) knows the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, an old English tale about a poor widow whose son sells their only valuable possession, their cow, for a bag of beans.

Luckily, the beans turn out to be magic and when planted grow so big they reach the land of the rich, evil Giant. Jack climbs the beanstalk, robs the Giant who meets his end when, on his way down the beanstalk to reek revenge, finds that Jack has chopped it down. Good wins over evil and the poor man gets the gold and the girl.

This is perfect panto material, especially in the hands of veteran (not in years, only experience!) performers Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott, the big stars of the show. It has a big tartan twist and in true panto style is full of local jokes (yes, these damn trams) and topical references like the X Factor, Strictly, Tommy Sheridan, Gillian McHeath, Over the Rainbow and Coronation Street that are lapped up by the family audience.

One of the great skills of panto scripts is the inclusion of adult humour at a pitch that should go over the heids o the we’ans and this show does it with comic aplomb.

Part of the troupe is a group of members of the Julie Mitchell Edinburgh Dance Academy. This is a great chance for youngsters to appear in a professional pantomime with experienced performers.

One wee lass stood out in the troupe, staying in character throughout and with her cut-above dance moves. (Sorry, I don’t know the name but she wore red strippit troosers in one scene!)

There was a lot of competition on stage and Donna Martin stood out with her relaxed dance performance in the ensemble. The spell dance scene is spectacular with a great bit of fiddling going on and the scene of forest of luminous insects and birds is quite magical.

While this is a traditional panto, I am personally delighted at the dropping of the role of the Principal Boy. However, there is no shortage of opportunities to show off lovely female legs as females with Moyo Akande as the gorgeous Fairy and Jo Freer as the transformed Princess Apricot. They are glamour personified!

I have no such issue with the concept of the pantomime dame which Allan Stewart plays scarily convincingly, appearing on stage on more than one occasion in a manner that would put a flying Ann Widdicombe to shame. Grant Stott as the hideous Fleshcreep is a cross between Dracula and a hard man who showed his true self by mouthing ‘Sorry!’ to a wee lassie in the audience he’d scared a bit too much!

Andy Gray as the King is full of self referential dopiness and just -verging- on-the–camp theatrical style of dance steps and being ‘no very well’. His Asterix version of Riverdance with Allan Stewart was a joy to behold.

This is not sophisticated theatre with astonishing sets, although the miraculously moving Giant is pretty impressive, as are the flying and lighting features and the growing beanstalk. In the main we have old fashioned pulley scene changes showing painted fantasy lands which are just right and part of the experience.

What we do have is wall-to-wall fun, communal singing, and a tremendous time out – just what’s needed in this climate, meteorological or otherwise.

I asked my 7 year old companion what she thought of it.

“Fantastic,” was the response.

And her favourite bit?

“All of it!”

Say no more.

Show times
Saturday 4 December 2010 to Sunday 23 January 2011
Performance times vary

Ticket Prices
From £9.50 to £23

Preview: Edinburgh Christmas Shows and Pantomimes 2010