Jack and the Beanstalk review at Lyric Hammersmith, London – ‘fizzy and fun’
The Lyric Hammersmith panto, now in its ninth year, has never relied on big names or snazzy special effects. Its strength lies in the way it blends traditional and contemporary elements to create one of London’s most distinctive and likeable pantomimes, capable of appealing to even hardened panto-phobes.
Vikki Stone – the best thing in last year’s Aladdin – is back as this year’s Big Bad, Squire Fleshcreep, a money-grabbing landlord who keeps hiking up the rent on poor Jack’s farm under the flyover and threatening to evict her if she and her mother can’t pay up on time.
Once again, Stone proves herself a top-notch baddie, almost too good to boo, energising the production whenever she’s on stage. She’s solidly supported by Faith Omole as chipper can-do Jack, Kraig Thornber’s relatively low-key Dame Lotte Trottalot, and Daniel Fraser as Fleshcreep’s son Jill, a wannabe actor who has lived all his life in a castle and never had a proper job.
Regular Lyric panto scribe Joel Horwood salts his script with gentle social commentary and eschews innuendo while throwing in occasional Caryl Churchill references for the theatre geeks in the audience.
There are a few frankly bizarre moments – the obligatory slosh scene sees poor Daisy the Cow (Kayla Meikle) strapped into a malevolent milking machine – but for the most part, Sean Holmes and Jude Christian’s production is a fizzy and fun one that includes an actual wild goose chase, songs from Little Mix to Dionne Warwick and the customary Lyric Hammersmith singalong.