Despite lavish sets and costumes, and a talented cast of panto favourites, this version of Jack and The Beanstalk lacks the sparkle, vitality and brash, belly laugh humour that we have come to expect from Paul Holman productions.
This year’s offering doesn’t lend itself much to audience participation either, with few opportunities to hiss, boo and shout catchphrases. The tried-and-tested ghost gag even failed to create a deafening din.
Even pantomime favourite Jezz Edwards, as Simon, had little opportunity to do what he’s best at doing, which is getting the audience to raise the roof. Couple this with a myriad of technical problems and this pantomime was as hard-going to watch at times as I imagine it was to perform in.
It was only when Dame Trott appeared that the production seemed to ignite, lit by Barry North’s old-style traditional dame. As the dame, North is superb with his raucous humour, garish costumes and irreverent audience repartee, having the ability to dispense humour as well as pathos, evident when he bid a tearful goodbye to Daisy the cow.
When they have the opportunity, Edwards and Steve Bruus as King Crumble are a dream comedy duo. It takes a lot to make me laugh, but the wall-papering gag, where not a word is spoken always has me in stitches. Although it’s as old as the hills, this gag takes immense skill and perfect timing – and Edwards and Bruus proved to have it in abundance.
Ashes to Ashes star Marshall Lancaster as Fleshcreep, seemed to take a while to get to grips with the menacing panto villain persona but when he did he was a force to be reckoned with, albeit still a tad too nice.
Janine Pardo is a spirited pretty-as-a-picture Princess and Allan Jay a dashing Jack, whilst Lisa Hanman’s down-to-earth fairy is a joy to watch.
With great choreography and an amazing Giant Blunderbore, Jack and The Beanstalk may need nip and tuck to get it into shape, but it’s still a great, traditional pantomime perfect for all the family.
To January 5, The Carriageworks, Millennium Square, Leeds, Tel. 0113 2243801 www.carriageworkstheatre.org.uk