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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Oxford Playhouse - Jack and the Beanstalk

4th December 2009 to 17th January 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

A giant spectacular

Jack and the Beanstalk, at the Oxford Playhouse until Sunday, January 17

Peter Duncan's fourth pantomime at the Oxford Playhouse, Jack and the Beanstalk, contains many surprising twists on the fairytale formula.

A seemingly bucolic village is beset with problems. There are economic woes, and in a move that Chancellor Darling would find difficult before an election. Squire Longshanks (Richard Stacey) is forced to put up the rents for a number of audience groups visiting the theatre as well as for his villagers. Locals are disappearing, crimes blamed on an unseen, loud-voiced giant. Despite these problems, the squire's pretty daughter Jill (Laura Pitt-Fulford) falls in love with the teaching assistant's son, Jack (Chris Carswefl). Jack's mother, Dame Trott (Alan French) is a single mother whose only asset is her big-eyed cow, Buttercup.

Matters go from bad to worse when Jill is abducted for the giant's dinner. When the good fairy (operatically-voiced Deborah Crowe) conjures up a magic beanstalk, Jack, his mother, and his dippy brother Willie (Matthew Eraser Holland) set off to rescue Jill. Ranged against them is the raffish Brummie rocker Fleshcreepy (Chris Larner), looking remarkably like Robert Smith of the Cure, and a brilliantly set-stealing one-eyed alien giant, designed by Jag Props. The musical numbers are well-choreographed by Alan Bradshaw while Duncan does not omit crowd-pleasing familiar gags and slapstick routines.