Jack And The Beanstalk at Theatre Royal Windsor: Review
PUBLISHED: 11:35 09 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:35 09 December 2016
It's an odd place to start a panto review, oh yes it is, but to set the scene we have to get through a typical domestic shenanigans.
On the long-awaited day I was due to take my granddaughter, The Mini Me, to see the show that evening, the daughter-in-law phoned with a burbling torrent which would have impressed Timmy Mallett. Within five minutes of this I could have happily hit her with his mallet. Several times.
Apparently The Min had leapt out of bed at 5am, would probably collapse in an exhausted heap after school or, at the very least, turn into The Whinging Four Year Old from Hell. Perhaps the two of them should give it a miss suggested the usually much loved daughter-in-law.
For once I stuck my foot down, doing the verbal equivalent of poking her in the eye with a sharpened magic wand even though she was clearly having a tough day.
We were all going to the panto and that was that. Thank goodness Bad Nanny Knows Best, at least on this occasion, for it’s hard to decide who was most entranced by this spectacular show, the grown up girlie or the tiddler with big eyes sat beside her. If it wasn’t for the fact that so much fun was happening on stage I could have spent the couple of hours just watching their lit up faces.
The casting is brilliant, the localised adaption by Steven Blakeley of the traditional story fun for both adults and children. Timmy, as King Crumble, has everyone in the palm of his hand, Anthea Turner charms in every way as Fairy Destiny, while Luke Harley and Anna Campkin as his princess love interest lead a chorus of musical favourites deserving the great applause they receive.
But The Min has inherited her grandmother’s ‘Dark Side’ so her favourite was the utterly wicked Gordon Fleshcreep, played superbly by Jason Gardiner. While everyone else in the audience booed, she clapped every time he appeared.
It’s a good moment to mention a real plus of this production – the tremendous level of audience participation. The intimacy of The Theatre Royal helps of course, but much of this is down to the script and sheer energy of the hilarious Kevin Cruise as Simon Trott, and Steven Blakeley, surely the ultimate panto dame and here strutting the stage in ridiculous costumes as Jack’s mother, Dame Tilly Trott.
Kevin will no doubt be delighted that the daughter in law thought she might wet herself with laughter at his antics, and ever so slightly disappointed that she didn’t. As she and The Min were enjoying themselves too much I took advantage of the booming voice and footsteps of Brian Blessed, the giant Boris Blunderbore, to tell them that he was marching about on the ceiling of the theatre. Thump! Thump! Thump!
As it happens, he didn’t fall through the rafters into our laps but there is a part of the show when the giant appears which I’m not going to spoil for those still waiting to see the panto. We left the theatre exhilarated and with The Min clutching ‘Destiny’s Delight’, a sparkly flashing magic wand she could take to ‘Show and Tell’ at school after a good night’s sleep.
Just go and see this show, it truly is ultimate family entertainment and the best medicine for when all the troubles of daily life are weighing you down.
Jack And The Beanstalk | Theatre Royal Windsor | www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk | Until 8 January 2017