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Stage Review: Jack And His Giant Stalk – The Adult Panto

by Tricia Marcotti

Citizens of Guildford! The pantomime season is upon us!

Yes, it’s December and we adults have our own pantomime to get involved with.

Slapping our thighs, tapping our toes, hissing the baddies, ooh-ing and aw-ing the heroes and heroines, and singing and dancing along with the cast – this is the stuff that all pantomime goers look forward to.

And so, with the help of the Guildford Fringe Theatre Company in the Back Room at the Star Inn in Quarry Street, you too can enjoy an evening of delights with the Meoff family: Jack, his mother Suki, and father Carrie, as they try to stave off repossession of their family farm in Fringeland.

Jack showing his mother, Suki, the giant stalk

Jack showing his mother, Suki, the giant (bean)stalk in the Guildford Fringe Theatre Company’s production of Jack and his Giant Stalk.

I’m sure that you know a similar story from childhood, but there is a twist. Enter the Evil Queen, her almost as evil henchperson Mary, the beautiful princess Jill, and intrepid reporter Huey who all live in Pantoland which can only be reached by beanstalk. Need I say more?

A fast-paced and well written production, the Guildford Fringe has adapted Chris Towndrow’s play in a exceedingly vigorous manner.

The music which accompanies the pantomime ranges from Queen to Abba to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The lyrics are amazing – the audience could sing along and indeed, dance along as one member of the audience – Stuart – found himself dancing alongside the cast for one of the numbers.

Charlotte Bateup who choreographed the production should take a bow for making it look it easy for the audience. Another member of the audience, Kirsty, was Suki’s confidant.

Jack Jill 2

Jack with Princess Jill.

Jack, played by William Meyer, gets the girl in the end. But you knew that, didn’t you? As with all pantomimes, there are ups and downs in the rhythm of the storyline, but Jack pulls off the coup of the decade (the princess has been missing for 10 years) and wins the heart of the princess Jill (played by Macy Cherrett).

Jack’s mother, Suki is admirably played by Ian Renshaw. His or should I say her turn of phrase and lightning delivery made the audience delight in his every speech. As Ian also plays the part of Madeline Forritt in the Kingdom of Pantoland, we enjoyed twice the amount of wit.

Jack’s father, Carrie (known in real life as David West), is a very robust persona, and kept the audience entertained all evening. He also played the part of Imogen, Madeline’s imaginary friend in Pantoland. I’m not convinced of the “imaginary” and I don’t think the rest of the audience was either.

Princess Jill, is the “singingest and dancingest” princess I’ve seen in my life. Hardly surprising that Jack falls for her charms, but she seems to fall for his as well.

The Evil Queen, played by Hilary Harwood, was a master of disguise. At one point, I could have sworn that Mary Berry was in the house! She has such a wicked laugh that comes over as entirely natural. Is she an Evil Queen in real life, or has she escaped from Pantoland?

Rebecca Withers plays the part of the Pantoland reporter. Can she stand up to the Evil Queen and save the princess?

As evil henchpeople go, Mary Hinge, as portrayed by Georgia-May Mathews, gives a fine rendition. But is she as evil as she makes out? You’ll have to see for yourself.

The cast of Guildford's Adult Panto - Jack and his Giant Stalk

The complete cast of the Guildford Fringe Theatre Companty’s Adult Panto Jack and his Giant Stalk. From the left, Huey (Rebecca Withers), Suki (Ian Renshaw), Mary (Georgia-May Mathews), Carrie (David West), Jack (William Meyer), Jill (Macey Cherrett), Evil Queen (Hilary Harwood).

So, a final warning – do not take your children to this pantomime – Jack and his Giant Stalk is for adults only!

Five stars. You’ll be missing a terrific night out if you neglect to see this wonderful cast performing. Don’t miss it!

On now, it runs until December 31. You can click here to book online or call 0333 666 3366.

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One Response to Stage Review: Jack And His Giant Stalk – The Adult Panto

  1. Sue Doughty Reply

    December 5, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Yes, it’s a really great evening out. I’m not a pantomime person but loved this.

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