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Jack and the Beanstalk review at Hexagon Reading

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Toyah Wilcox is an energetic performer, brimming over with enthusiasm. I once saw her play the Wicked Queen in Snow White and thought it to be one of the best panto performances ever. However, here as Jack, although she sings her heart out and mugs like crazy, she seems somehow miscast, coming across as oddly irritating.

The show really belongs to Christopher Lillicrap as the warmly grotesque Dame Daisy. He dominates the proceedings with the required hokum, effortlessly joking his way through set pieces such as a lively kitchen scene and a touching duet with Buttercup the Cow. In fact, Buttercup is quite a visual highlight - a wonderful costume, skilfully operated - and the same can be said for the Hen and a rather striking giant.

Attractive sets help to divert attention from a sometimes over-wordy script and occasional peculiar choice of song. Harvey James as a roller skating Silly Billy keeps things moving with inspired dopiness, supported by the likes of Simon Ludders as the creepy henchman, Burp. Tania Whatley and Kelly Bibb, as the Enchantress and Jilly, work with competent professionalism, but the production generally lacks that magic touch of seasonal sparkle.

Production Information

Hexagon, Reading, December 8-January 6

Authors
Christopher Lillicrap, Jeanette Ranger
Director
Christopher Dunham
Producer
Christopher Lillicrap
Cast includes
Toyah Wilcox, Christopher Lillicrap, Harvey James, Simon Ludders, Tania Whatley, Kelly Bibb, Nicola Miles
Running time
2hrs 20mins
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