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Silchester Players - Jack and the Beanstalk

26th to 27th January and 2nd to 3rd February 2018

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

A village-full of beans…

Silchester Players: Jack and the Beanstalk, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, January 26, and Friday, January 27, and Friday, February 2, and Saturday, February 3

"Dick, Aladdin, Simon, Jack…" Poor Dame Tilly Trot (alias Stephen Bibby) could barely remember which pantomime she was in – a running gag that all thespians will appreciate. Thankfully, the audience knew they had come to watch Silchester Players' production of Jack and the Beanstalk, and even Dame Trot remembered where she was in the end.

Jack and the Beanstalk had something for everyone and opened to a lively number from the villagers, who remained relentlessly cheerful, despite a fearsome array of villains – the mayor (Kevin Belcher), who could teach HMRC a thing or two about tax collecting, the very impressive Giant Blunderbore, and most menacing of all, Blunderbore's side-kick Grotviler – a delightful performance from Zoe Cole, with long sinuous fingers and an evil laugh.

Thanks to slick direction from Roy Glancey and Tim Oliver (who even managed a cameo appearance as Ikea cage assemblers), the quick-fire pace was maintained throughout, helped along by Simple Simon (Joe Williams) and his bottomless bag of sweets, the hapless Grabbit and Leggit (Scarlett Quittenton and Mary Robertson), and Sarah Oliver's delightful Fairy Haricot Vert – complete with rhymes and puns in French.

There were some excellent special effects, including a lift in a shed to transport Jack (Charley Henkey) to the top of the beanstalk (why not?) and no fewer than two ultraviolet dance scenes. The skeleton dance was particularly memorable and really demonstrated the talents of Silchester's junior chorus.

Special mentions to Rebecca Wright (Jill) for a beautiful rendition of On My Own from Les Mis, to Claire Humphreys for a hilarious appearance as Lady Lotsadosh and to Felicity Thompson as her resourceful maid Maisie.

Kevin Belcher nearly stole the show with his stunning detailed sets and Tony Oliver accompanied the chorus numbers with an effective mix of live and recorded music. I loved the impromptu musical snatches every time a song title was mentioned.

Jack and the Beanstalk continues this week – definitely worth taking the family along if you can.