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Jack and the Beanstalk review at New Wimbledon Theatre, London – ‘desperately lacking in imagination’

Al Murray and Clive Rowe in Jack and the Beanstalk at New Wimbledon Theatre, London Al Murray and Clive Rowe in Jack and the Beanstalk at New Wimbledon Theatre, London
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The New Wimbledon pantomime was once a stronghold for First Family Entertainment, now it’s been taken on by Qdos. It’s been 15 years since the venue has staged Jack and the Beanstalk, so it’s also something of a blank page. It could have been the opportunity for the company for a brand new adventure. But this is not the case.

Director Thom Southerland, unquestionably a whizz at reimagining classic musicals, fails to inject this production with anything resembling magic or innovation. Alan McHugh’s virtually plot-free script is no help, pandering as it does to stale set routines from headliner Al Murray, as Barman Al. Murray is new to the pantomime game and frankly it shows. He’s no singer or mover and his satirical pub landlord routine will probably be lost on the kids.

Clive Rowe is a true pantomime star, a Hackney Empire regular who has won awards for his work, but as Dame Trot he is woefully underused, struggling with a poor script and tepid musical numbers. Liam Tamne’s Jack is well and truly sidelined by Murray and his romance of Charlotte Gooch’s Princess Apricot is laughable in its brevity. The whole thing smacks of laziness. Qdos may be big, but if this story teaches anything, it’s that the bigger they are the harder they can fall.

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Al Murray and Clive Rowe fail to animate a tired pantomime that’s desperately lacking in imagination