Jack and the Beanstalk
- Gareth K Vile
- 12 December 2019
Loud and funny, in places
With Johnny Mac coming into his own as both hero and comic relief; Elaine C Smith providing a series of dynamic musical numbers; and a nod towards feminist sensibilities in the adventurous personality of the princess Jill (Naomi Cowe); the King's annual pantomime is, at least, full of light and energy. With Jonathan Watson vaguely part of the fun as the king, and Mac doubling up roles if not characters, the plot feels skimpy and held together by sporadic interruptions from the good fairy and her opponent, the wife of the giant who lives up the beanstalk.
If there are few surprises – familiar routines, adaptations of once-popular songs, romances without appreciable chemistry – Mac does get the most out of his gauche, child-friendly persona. There is a variation on the usual invitation to selected children to come on stage, and the final sing-along is swiftly dispatched: for the most part, the pace is fast and the humour consistent. Both acts feel a little long, with scenes that wander around the comedy, and Mac's catch-phrase is frequently used as a punchline. The jokes are old, the scenes structured around dated references and Jill's proto-feminism is more gestural than meaningful.
But the lights flash, the songs swing, Smith has charisma and Mac keeps the kids laughing. A solid entry that recognises the need for change, but is still far from contemporary in its values or humour.
King's Theatre, Glasgow, until Sun 5 Jan.