Originally produced at Theatre Royal Stratford East in 2012, with a book by Paul Sirett and songs by Wayne Nunes and Perry Melius, this production of Jack and the Beanstalk has been specifically reworked for Theatre Peckham.
It features a cast of young, local actors playing opposite professional performers, including panto stalwart Michael Bertenshaw, re-imagining the role he played in Stratford seven years ago.
Bertenshaw’s rag-tag dame immediately wins over his new audience with his hang-dog expression and gentle delivery. It’s an appealingly low-key opener, but Suzann McLean’s production never really picks up the pace. Nunes and Melius’s songs deploy a range of styles from ska to hip hop but they are over before they’ve really begun, and the whole thing feels desperately unfocused.
Recycling materials to create the set and costumes is a great idea but Lily Faith Knight’s cluttered design doesn’t make the most of it.
However the young cast display bags of enthusiasm, especially Cyrus Abraham-Odukale as an animated Jack. The show’s real live-wire is Nova Skyla Foueillis-Mose, as the cheeky half of a henchman double-act. It’s heartening to see so many young people on stage, clearly enjoying themselves, but the direction needs to be tighter.