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Belgrade Theatre's Jack and the Beanstalk Online reviewed

BWW Review: JACK AND THE BEANSTALK ONLINE, Belgrade Theatre BWW Review: JACK AND THE BEANSTALK ONLINE, Belgrade Theatre Well, it's all change this year! In a bid to get their work seen by as many people as possible, many theatre productions have moved online, as we know.

Because of the interactive nature of the genre, pantomime being streamed to home audiences is a bigger task to make-work. However, the team behind Belgrade Theatre Coventry's panto has shown that it is still possible to spread Christmas cheer via the means of modern technology, with their 2020 production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Coventry's dream team, headed up by one of the best duos on the panto circuit, Iain Lauchlan and Craig Hollingsworth, have produced a high quality, concise yet jam-packed pantomime, suitable for people of all ages.

The filmed content starts and ends poignantly, showing an empty stage and with the Belgrade auditorium set out with socially distanced seating. This makes the main body of content all the more fulfilling.

It is full of COVID-19 gags, as I'm sure many pantos will be for years to come, but they are not ill-placed. The jokes provide humour in what has been a dire situation for everyone. From the fictional village of Prickly Bottom having a high R (rubbish) number to Daisy the Cow being "stretched" to 2m for social distancing purposes and producing a bottle of Corona, there is certainly plenty to laugh about!

Having a reduced cast, Lauchlan and Hollingsworth take on three roles each. This was made possible using the magic of video editing.

They both take on the roles they are known for, the Dame and Simon respectively, but Lauchlan is also the Giant and Fairy Fluff and Hollingsworth is the King and Fleshcreep. They manage to define each role clearly, and their onstage chemistry is, as always, undeniable.

Great support comes in the form of Morna Macpherson as Jack, Arina Ii as Princess Alyssa and the energetic children's ensemble. The Princess' power ballad, whilst mocked in the spirit of the piece, is pretty sensational and I actually would have loved to hear more!

This production has been filmed for the screen, as opposed to being a filmed stage production and this greatly works in its favour. Paul Gibson directs the show well, and Mark Walters' sets and costumes look as lavish on-screen as they usually do in reality. There is a close-up nature to the piece, which occasionally makes it feel on a smaller scale than it is but the space is used efficiently, especially when accommodating Jenny Philips' choreography.

This version of Jack and the Beanstalk may be different, and the live interaction is missed, but this is a brilliant alternative; one of which I'd be more than happy to watch again.

Jack and the Beanstalk at Belgrade Theatre Coventry is available to stream online until 31 December

Photo credit: Chloe Ely Photography

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