How eccentric, and ridiculously clever, of writer/director Tony Lidington to send in the clowns and make Jack part of the Circus legume family. This travelling troupe of timeless circus artists tell Jack’s story while performing aerial acrobatic wonders.
The story is the same, with a loveable panto camel instead of a cow, plus all the traditional business and singalong songs from a talented Pierrot clown band. Kelly Jago’s design is a delicious big top of red and white stripes, the jingle of gold fringing and a proper circus ring.
Clowning around with a nod to Grimaldi is the doom-laden giant, Mighty Mung, a huge puppet clown, beautifully animated by Jake England-John. He also produces a sizzling performance as the ringmaster, as well as the insanely silly little Mungo, who wears shoes on his knees.
When she’s not dangling upside down playing the saxophone, Natalie Verhaegen makes the boos count as bad girl Hettie Heinz, a sort of Lady Gaga meets Jessica Ennis character. Down-to-earth Barrovian Gary Bridgens is fabulous too, as the risque fortune telling dame, Ida Bean, a not-so-small medium at large.