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Review – Jack and the Beanstalk – Epstein Theatre Liverpool

REGAL Entertainments are back at the Epstein this Easter with a great family treat. We last saw their take on Jack and the Beanstalk at St Helens in the autumn half term, but here Reece Sibbald’s script has been given a total overhaul and this new version of the show has genuine freshness.

The ever popular Timothy Lucas reprises the role of Jack alongside panto veteran Mark Two who returns with his Dame Dolly Trott, while Maddie Hope Coelho makes an engaging and lively Princess Jill. The forces of good and evil in this story are represented by Fairy Mary and Mrs Fleshcreep. Stepping in as Fairy Mary on press night to cover for illness is the show’s director Olivia Sloyan, and she makes a brilliant job of the role, providing the perfect foil to Abigail Middleton’s dastardly Fleshcreep. Completing the main cast is Lewis Devine as Jack’s brother Simple Simon. Devine as always puts more energy into his frenetic performance than one person might be expected to possess, but it’s good to see him given an opportunity to set aside the slapstick for a brief moment to demonstrate his vocal skills, in an impressive rendition of It’s Not Unusual, with more than a nod to Tom Jones.

This reworking of the production dispenses with some of the early Act I flummery and gets on with the storytelling more swiftly than it did last time around. Of course it’s panto, so the traditional tale sometimes takes a back seat while the comic set pieces are shoehorned in, but we reassuringly see the beans producing a triffid-like beanstalk before we go to the interval.

Pacing is driven and consistent, and the show never loses its energy. Even the various forestage scenes that cover set changes have been given a swifter feel and don’t outstay their welcome. Regal’s world of sets and costumes always brings a traditional feel to their pantos, and this is no exception, enhanced by great lighting and a punchy musical score. The comedy is a little close to the knuckle in places, but succeeds in never quite overstepping the line.

Add to this a sextet of excellent dancers who fill the stage with movement and, of course, not forgetting the all-important pantomime cow, this all makes for a big value family night out.

Jack and the Beanstalk plays at the Epstein Theatre until Sunday 24th April.

Star rating – 4 stars

Review by Nigel Smith

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