Panto: Jack and the Beanstalk (Lyric Hammersmith)

Who: Written by Jude Christian and Sonia Jalaly; directed by Nicholai La Barrie. Set & costumes by Good Teeth. Choreography by Arielle Smith.

Where and when: Lyric Hammersmith, until 7 Jan 2023. Runs 120 minutes. Purchase tickets here.

Cast: Emmanuel Akwafo, Maddison Bulleyment, Jodie Jacobs, Finlay McGuigan, Leah St Luce with ensemble Norma Butikofer, Anna Davey, Jamal Franklin, Tayan Thomas-Browne.

Basic plot: Jack’s friend Jill has picked her to godmother with magic – she must make the world better in three wishes. The baddie of Hammersmith is forcing a tax. How to raise the money?

Characters and performances: Jack (our hero, St Luce, lively in the panto boy tradition) and Simon (McGuigan, a bit too kids TV), children of Dame Trott (Akwafo, marvellous). Jill (Bulleyment, faithful to the end), trainee fairy and friend of Jack. Francis Fleshcreep (Jacobs, delightfully hissable), the baddie.

Audience interaction: A good range of ‘no it isn’t’ and ‘it’s behind you’ callbacks, plus oohs, aws and boos. One person brought up in act one, two children in a game (in true Crackerjack style) in act two.

Atmosphere: Almost a full house, lots of laughs and young children seemed engaged, shouting out whether prompted or not. The beginning with a voiceover and a light show is good.

Music: Plenty of songs based on familiar tunes, and a rather large slice of rap. There’s a dance sequence too and a catchy jingle for ‘Trott’s World of Milk’.

Technical: We have gold paper and snow falling down from above, some really good light work (Elliot Griggs), and an amusing cameo from a cuddly toy.

Cuteness factor: Daisy the cow, and the golden goose (a puppet).

Regional/contemporary relevance: Lots of references to Hammersmith, and a bit of a nod to the cost of living crisis.

Final verdict: ***. Entertaining with a particularly tight second half and some amusing moments. Good to see Jack and Jill as strong female role models. But what became of the goose?

Image credit: Helen Murray