BWW Review: JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, King's Theatre, Glasgow
There's a subplot where Jack Trott is in love with Princess Jill (despite never seeming to have ever had a conversation with her) and Dotty Trotty has a thing for dopey King Hector- the woefully underused Jonathan Watson. There's a vague attempt at modernising the story as Princess Jill is determined to take on the giant herself and dismisses any suggestion of a hero being rewarded with her hand in marriage.
The beloved King's Theatre pantomime was taken over by Qdos Entertainment in 2017. I'm at a major disadvantage for this performance because I had seen another Qdos production the previous evening and it is impossible to ignore the recycled script. While I appreciate that most families are just seeing the one pantomime this festive season, it feels lazy and disrespectful to audiences to be peddling the same show up and down the country.
After an underwhelming appearance of the beanstalk, there's a big finish at the end of Act One and at this point it becomes clear where the budget has gone. It's definitely impressive but this move sticks out like a sore thumb against what is otherwise a traditional pantomime. A decent narrative and good jokes have been sacrified in favour of crass humour and gimmicks. There's a scene where Dotty and Jack bring out a video camera and huge screen in order to zoom in on embarrassed members of the audience and ridicule them. It doesn't sit well and nobody seems to find it particularly funny.
The one saving grace of this pantomime is some off-the-cuff interaction between Johnny Mac and some children that have been pulled out of the audience for some participation. This is where the real magic lies in this production.
Jack and the Beanstalk is a real mishmash of a show that doesn't seem to know what it wants to achieve. There are some genuinely nice moments such as Smith's big song and dance number "I'm Still Working" but they are overshadowed by a weak script and effects that try too hard to impress.
Jack and the Beanstalk runs at the King's Theatre, Glasgow until 5 January 2020.
Photo credit: Richard Campbell