Jack and the Beanstalk

King’s Glasgow

Mary Brennan

three stars

“I’m enjoying myself!” What’s more the audience seems to be echoing Johnny Mac’s gleeful catchphrase, laughing and applauding his rapid patter reprise of events and readily warming to his breezily lackadaisical Jack Trott. They might also believe that he will climb the beanstalk of the title, annihilate the Ogre and win the hand (and all the other parts) of Princess Jill. Mind you, Jill (Naomi Cowe) has already asserted tunefully that she intends to become a hero herself...

The woman who’s really proving heroic here is, of course, Elaine C Smith who as Dame Trot is the lynchpin in almost every musical number and many of the comedy set pieces. From the moment she arrives on stage, in a fizzy-drink frock that suggests she’s made of strong stuff (girders, perchance?), Smith is totally full-on and energised.

Her ‘I’m still working...’ routine pays off, this take on the Elton John song with the pungently topical quip that she’ll ‘no get my pension ‘til I’m 69!’ Together Smith and Mac keep the fun rolling along. Other folk do chip in: Jonathan Watson is Dame Trott’s ideal squeeze, King Hector, Angela Darcy is Mammy Nature, a green-spirited Glesca’ fairy, and Anne Smith is Mrs Blunderbore, who gets to stalk on-stage in Goth-black costumes and repeatedly threaten the people of Glasvegas and their farm animals with being eaten by her (animatronic) husband. Like the briefly seen, somewhat static Giant Blunderbore, the supporting cast get nowhere near enough to do. What it is with Qdos Entertainment? They seem determined to import their own ‘traditions’ – big, showy props, video-ing the audience and screening their embarrassment – at the expense of decent narrative and characterisations.

Jack and Jill never really talk with each other. As for Daisy the Cow, she’s a token presence. Smith and Mac really knock their pan out – but this panto shouldn’t be relying on them alone to have everyone enjoying themselves.