This year’s Mercury Theatre pantomime takes the seed of a traditional fairytale, Jack and the Beanstalk, and feeds it a Miracle Gro elixir of Star Wars, Queen and Disneyfied pop songs.
Written by Daniel Buckroyd, it’s an amusing mash-up that scores points with the younger audience members, but wilts when it comes to scripted jokes or witty one-liners.
Our lad Jack (Craig Mather) is a self-confessed ‘numpty’ caught playing with a floppy leek by his sweetheart, Princess Jill (Madeleine Leslay). His pet, Daisy the cow, has been turned into Day-Z, the bovine version of Mr Beyoncé who is played with obvious enthusiasm by Dale Superville.
Alongside them is Carli Norris’ Gladys, a trainee Fairy Godmother who’s got her wand mixed up with her knitting needles, and Fleshcreep (Ignatius Anthony), a slightly steam-punked villain who enjoys antagonising the children.
As Dame Trott, Antony Stuart-Hicks’ comedy style is generally restricted to being mean to the audience (presumably to pre-empt them being mean to him). At points it gets a good reaction from the crowd but at other times it sits awkwardly with the rest of the family-friendly show, especially when the jokes aren’t funny – such as an ad lib gag about the Irish stealing handbags.
As a whole, it’s a tad underwhelming and lacking in true sparkle, despite all the effort put into make David Shields’ set design a glittering storybook world. That said, the poptastic soundtrack offers plenty of chances to join in, as the crowd does with gusto.