Review | Jack and The Beanstalk at The Kings Theatre, Southsea: 'Scales new heights'
The festive season isn’t complete for many without a decent pantomime.
And fortunately, The Kings Theatre’s Jack and The Beanstalk fits the bill perfectly, providing all the songs, laughs, and audience participation you could ask for.
Last year’s run of Dick Whittington was cut short after just 13 performances as tightened restrictions meant the show couldn’t go on, leaving a definite sense of unfinished business.
This year, with the pandemic still lingering, reuniting most of that locally-based cast makes sense emotionally and pragmatically.
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Jack Edwards chomps his way through the show’s scenery as Dame Trott to suitably outrageous effect. There are of course some outstanding costumes for the dame – the Wonder Woman effort is definitely a thing of, erm, wonder.
He’s comfortably assisted by James Percy as ‘son’ Billy Trott – the two of them providing the bulk of the laughs with plenty of knowing winks to the audience at the daftness of it all.
Percy’s opening, body function-related, gag gets a big laugh, the next, about vaccines, gets a more mixed response proving that not everyone is quite on the same page (I laughed...).
And so it goes – the occasional jokes falls a little flat, but it doesn’t matter – there’ll be another one along soon that works just fine.
There are plenty of references to the city as one would expect, along with a smattering of topical jokes – Rishi Sunak and Priti Patel feature.
X Factor finalist Sean Smith has settled nicely into the titular handsome hero role – and gets to show off his singing chops to good effect more than once.
And Marlene Little Hill in the role of Fairy Pea Pod also boasts an incredible voice, and a nice line in rhyming couplets.
Panto newcomer Amy Hart plays the princess. There are obviously several gags at the expense of her time on Love Island, but it’s never mean-spirited and Amy is game, throwing herself into the silliness of it all with aplomb.
Unfortunately Julia Worsley is unable to appear tonight as the villain Von Badapple, but Jacqueline Willis – another familiar face from the local scene – ably stands in for her, proving to be an eminently boo-able baddie.
The giant’s booming voice sounds rather Brian Blessed-esque, but is uncredited in the programme, and if it’s not him – it’s a very good impersonation.
After last year’s Covid-compromised performances with social distancing and so on, it was nice to see everything back as it should be, and the cast able to fully interact again.
All of the favourite set-pieces we’ve come to expect from a Kings panto are there, present and correct.
Indeed, the ghost gag’s bench becomes a part of the plot.
And the traditionally chaotic 12 Days of Christmas is back in all its glory with the loo rolls and water pistols, in fact, you could say it literally scales new heights.
Here’s to a full run and the cast and crew getting all the applause they deserve for another smashing Pompey panto.
When Percy asks at the end: ‘Did you enjoy it?’ the resounding cheers are an emphatic ‘Yes!’
Jack and the Beanstalk runs until January 2. Go to kingsportsmouth.co.uk.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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