Reviewed by Katy Hart
“A theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, which involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas”. If this dictionary definition of pantomime is anything to go by, then the Oxford Playhouse have successfully managed to hit the nail on the head, or was it the giant on the beanstalk?
Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of taking my family to see Jack and the Beanstalk. We arrived in good time as parking in Oxford can be difficult, however we easily found parking at the Seacourt Park and Ride, and after a short trip into the city we hopped off at Park End Lane and had a short walk to the theatre. There is always a warm welcome at the Oxford Playhouse, and yesterday was no exception. The theatre was full of families, and youth groups and we all joined together for a fun afternoon of music and laughter.
Jack, played by Ricky Oakley, is feeling lonely as all his friends have been taken by the giant to live and work in the clouds, he was never smart enough to have been taken. Times are hard in the village and Jack has to go to market to sell their cow. On the way he meets Judy Dench (Amrou Al-Kadhi) and his accomplice Harri Co’vert (Alessandro Babalola) who work with the giant. They trick Jack into selling them the cow in exchange for five beans. Fairy Nuff (Rebecca Lucy Taylor) plays Jack’s guardian and she brings her magic to the beans. When Jack plants the beans, he finds the next morning one reaching up to the clouds. This is the perfect opportunity for Jack to visit the clouds, and rescue his fellow villagers.
Along the way we are treated to several songs, countless jokes and a thoroughly entertaining performance. I was a little nervous taking my children who are now a little older, (11, 13 and 18) as I didn’t know if a visit to the pantomime would be ‘cool’ however they were laughing so much throughout that I need not have worried. They have already asked if we can go again as a family next year.
My younger son was in awe at Jack’s sister ‘Smart Simone’ who completely baffled the baddies Judy and Harri with her bartering and money skills – and they all especially enjoyed the moment when the audience can participate in a bean shower!! There were the usual opportunities to join in with ‘He’s behind you’ and ‘Oh No it isn’t’ and the community sing along and several topical jokes to groan along to.
There may not have been a star-studded cast list, although the resumes of the cast are impressive, but the professionalism with which the show was delivered, and the way in which it was received by the audience shows that you do not need to have a celebrity among the cast to have a successful performance.
At times, I missed some of the speaking as it was quite fast moving, however it didn’t distract from what was a really great afternoon.
The performance lasts just two hours with a short interval.
Would I recommend this show? Absolutely. If you want great family entertainment, then I’m sure you will not be disappointed.
Tickets cost from £15 to £30.
Jack and the Beanstalk is at the Oxford Playhouse from 24 November 2017 to 7 January 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.oxfordplayhouse.com or call the box office on 01865 305305.
Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2LW | 01865 305305