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Jack and the Beanstalk review at Salisbury Playhouse – ‘staggeringly good’

Sam Harrison and Laura Crowhurst in Jack the Beanstalk at Salisbury Playhouse Sam Harrison and Laura Crowhurst in Jack the Beanstalk at Salisbury Playhouse

Salisbury Playhouse has created a dream panto team in writer Andrew Pollard, director Ryan McBryde and Richard Ede as Dame for this year’s Jack and the Beanstalk.

The trio worked together on last year’s high-flying Aladdin, but Jack’s beanstalk has taken them to new heights – it’s staggeringly good on all levels.

James Button’s candy-coloured, spangled sets and imaginative costumes look fabulous under Nic Farman’s lighting, the giant is undeniably impressive, musical director Christopher Peake works wonders in the pit and there isn’t a weak link in the cast.

Ede was last year’s dame and returns as an earthy, man-hungry Dame Trott with candy-floss hair, an enviable waist-line and easy audience rapport.

Laura Crowhurst’s Pat the Cow is a riot, Sam Harrison turns Jack into an endearing anti-hero with Tanya Shields’ kick-ass Jill at his side and JJ Henry’s King Crackpot in strong support.

Steven Serlin’s creepy Nightshade laps up the hisses and boos and Jemma Geanaus engages as a sparky bean fairy.

Salisbury’s pantos are traditionally squeaky clean, devoid of star names, stick to the story and observe panto conventions. This one is also very funny, suitably messy in the slosh scene, has plenty of audience participation and a staging of Bohemian Rhapsody as the Act I finale that is worth the price of a ticket on its own.

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A jackpot-hitting pantomime that delivers on every level