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Jack and the Beanstalk

“Fee fi fo fun”

After a long stretch without a family panto, in the last few years Brighton has sprouted two. Staged in a seafront hotel by event company E3, Jack and the Beanstalk is the one siphoning up the local sponsors. There’s even a gratuitous bit of product placement relating to how Dame Dolly Trott gets up the beanstalk.

But this isn’t the soulless production you might expect, especially after being forced to enter via the grim cash-in of a ‘Christmas Fayre’. Alasdair Buchan has oily charisma as a Steampunk-trimmed Fleshcreep. Richard Dawes is an engaging Silly Billy. And writer Keris Lea doubles as Fairy Nature, with a dress coiled in ivy and a suitably soaring voice.

Song and dance numbers dominate, with a well-choreographed ensemble and snatches of Abba, Dolly and Cyndi alongside Rita Ora and Jonas Blue. Less artistry has gone into the set, which is dominated by lurid digital projections and misses an opportunity for prop-related fun in the giant’s castle. But we do get a towering inflatable beanstalk, and a lumbering giant.

Rumelle’s Dame Dolly Trott feels rather toothless, with little crowd rapport and no recourse to innuendo (sample ‘gag’: there are lots of vegans in Brighton), and there is no need for the Christopher Biggins’ video appearance beyond it being a somewhat tired Brighton tradition.

But director David Hill understands the panto form – and his audience. The highlight is a deftly-rehearsed version of If I Were Not Upon the Stage, complete with water soakers.


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Production Details
Production nameJack and the Beanstalk
VenueHilton Brighton Metropole
StartsDecember 20, 2018
EndsDecember 29, 208
Running time2hrs 15min
AuthorKeris Lea
DirectorDavid Hill
Musical directorJames Cocks
ChoreographerJodie Michelle
Set designerDanilo Raino
Lighting designerJoseph Wailes
Video designerChristopher Biggins
CastAlasdair Buchan, David Rumelle, Keris Lea, Molly Scott, Richard Dawes, Shaun Mendum
Production managerJoseph Wailes
Stage managerKaty Gerard, Thomas Wortley
VerdictBrighton’s family pantomime is fee fi fo fun, despite the product placement
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