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Bollywood Jack review at Tara Theatre, London – ‘an exciting and colourful fusion’

Adam Samuel-Bal and Shala Nyx in Bollywood Jack at the Tara Arts Theatre, Earlsfield. Photo: Tallulah Shepard

This is the first pantomime in Tara Arts’ new theatre and the script to Bollywood Jack doesn’t shy away from celebrating that fact. The intimate yet beautifully appointed space provides the perfect platform for the Indian spiced take on Jack and the Beanstalk, featuring a gallery of musicians led by Ernest Ignatius as the narrator. Farrukh Dhondy’s script is blissfully contemporary, ripe with local references and plenty of seriously corny jokes.

In the process of fusing the Bollywood and pantomime styles, director Jatinder Verma has reinstated the principal boy played by a woman, in this instance the sharp-witted Sohm Kapila. So rare is this form of casting today, that thanks to killer timing and a sense of the absurd, Kapila nearly steals every scene she is in. Of course, that’s notwithstanding two gloriously arch performances from Adam Samuel-Bal as a moustache twirling Conman and Deven Modha as a curiously alluring, rather dapper giant.

All pantomimes benefit from a strong dame and Ralph Birtwell is good value, especially when paired with Shala Nyx’ endearing sacred pantomime cow. The songs are big-hearted, the costumes intricate and colourful and the humour a healthy mix of meta references and old-school gags.

Tara Arts may only just be settling into its surroundings but its pantomime is bordering on classic status.

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Verdict
Exciting and colourful fusion of Bollywood and pantomime given a South London twist
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