Jack and the Beanstalk by Jack Be Nimble
The festive season is unfolding a little differently this year, but creatives are finding innovative ways to keep up traditions, even if these customs do have to be enjoyed in new formats. Former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan put together a colourful version of Jack and the Beanstalk, a pantomime filmed in his very own back garden. Families can watch it online or – to get something more similar to the classic panto experience – they can go to an Everyman cinema and see it on the big screen.
The story of Jack, Jill and the magic beans is well known, but this adaptation has been contemporised, so many jokes are inspired by current events. The opening song is called Lockdown, characters talk of social distancing, Jack’s mother (Dame Trott) is on Universal Credit and a climate change protest is taking place. There is no lack of puns, double entendres or songs, and merriment abounds throughout the show. Duncan plays the Dame and he does so with a larger-than-life zest. The characters get the audience involved by asking questions and waiting for an answer, using the familiar “I can’t hear you!” to give children a chance to shout their responses at the screen.
Doubtless, the colourful costumes and comical choreographies do lose some of their dazzle via the screen; the beauty of pantomimes is, after all, in the interactions between the performers and the young, enthusiastic audience. Nevertheless, the freedom to have a variety of settings and some special effects partly makes up for this. The production sits somewhere between theatre and television, and although it cannot offer the warm, vibrant atmosphere that sharing the same physical space can, it is a fun and valid alternative to the panto family outing for the Christmas season.
Jack and the Beanstalk by Jack Be Nimble is online from 4th December until 10th January 2021 and in Everyman Cinemas from 4th December. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.