The stage hardly has room to swing a cat – is that why the PACE team have so far avoided Dick Whittington as a panto choice?
However space doesn't limit their ambitions for here they are, celebrating their 25th anniversary, by sprouting a splendiferously cheeky Beanstalk that is so verdant with family fun and the wicked doings of a conniving, money-grabbing Queen that you wonder if there'll be more than a glimpse of any Giant. Maybe just a token body part and a thundering voice, so that Jack (Matthew McBrier) can prove he's not useless by rescuing Jill (Alison Tennant) from being toast? But no: there is a toweringly huge Giant who walks, talks and has the wee boys in the front row jumping and squeaking with gleeful trepidation. The same wee boys will, along with other youngsters, carry out several stage invasions in their eagerness to help Dame David Wallace keep up with the plot.
As ever, the trick is that he's not behind you, kids, he and his team are wonderfully ahead of the panto game. The running gags could outstrip Usain Bolt in speed and stamina and the crisply delivered song-and-dance routines see members of Pace Youth Theatre light up the stage with irresistably fresh-faced energy.
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Jack'n'Jill's romance is kept from soggy snogs by the daft interventions of Alan Orr's Giorgio, a lovably bumbling foil to Wallace's gruff and garrulous Dame. Their partnership fuels an outpouring of punning and patter – some clearly unscripted – that leaves audiences breathless with laughter. One song says all you need is imagination and a smile: PACE pantos have both, in spades. Happy silver jubilee, folks!