Jack and the Beanstalk Panto Review: New Wimbledon Theatre
The Pub Landlord makes His Potty Panto Debut
If you are expecting a traditional Jack and the Beanstalk performance turn away now. This production has Al Murray, aka The Pub Landord, in his first outing as a panto star. His snap, cackle and pop is a definite plus but it’s also an opportunity to throw in his well-oiled machine of a routine. The fact that Murray is pretty good at gurning too means that it isn’t totally lost on the kids. These are comedy curveballs that are fun but perhaps lack a real LOL moment. Murray is great with repartee but this theatre lark requires a different skill set.
Clive Rowe has more history, being a regular at the Hackney Empire, although the transfer from East London to SW19 takes away some of his energy as Dame Trot. Even so, Murray and Rowe are clearly having some good vibes together on stage as the leaders of the pack. The rest of the cast are doing their duty gamely, with Liam Tamne doing a perfectly passable Dancing in the Street routine, but otherwise being the Jack that got shoved to the back of the beanstalk.
Virtual Reality Gives Wow Factor
Director Thom Sutherland's best five minutes are the virtual reality section in the giant's castle where there's a flurry of real like scaries coming at you through a pair of 3D specs. It's great, it's involving and it's a nice distraction from the rather wooden acting.
When we get back to ground level for the big ending and Jack's wedding to Charlotte Gooch's Princess, it all feels a bit flat. There's no real crescendo and I'm pining for a return to a story rather than a collection of audience members having their moment.
Not to worry. It's that kind of show.