Jackie and the Baked Bean Stock is huge garish fun (3 stars)

Jackie and the Baked Bean Stock

Beanz meanz ludicrous plot linez

Writer and director Paul Harper-Swan's Websters Theatre pantomimes are always uber-camp, with a big heart, and this year's is no exception. The young hero Jackie (an endearing Jennifer Neil, gorgeous voice) is out on a mission to save her mammy Lola's Panto Pie business, which is being threatened by a rival – her evil auntie. The fabulous Jamie McKillop takes the role of gobby Lola, kicking his height with a strategically-placed hot dog on his costume. There is all the usual attention to local patter and disco diva turns.

The emphasis is firmly placed first and foremost on cheeky gags and audience interaction, plus a ridiculous subplot involving Lola's past as the winner of the Golden Mic award. It's bolstered by an energetic cast, a cute Beyoncé puppet preaching empowerment, and Fiona Larkin's sparkly clobber and design.

The scanty storyline scarcely matters, as it's huge garish fun. Above all, Neil Thomas' double turns are far and away the best things here: as Lola's acerbic sister Endora (very Rocky Horror) whose sardonic rendition of Michael Jackson's 'Bad' is hilarious; and as a disguised Weegie vendor with dodgy goods – possibly a euphemism. It's bonkers, sweet and very funny-with enough cheesy layers for all ages to enjoy.

Websters Theatre, until Sun Dec 31

Jackie and the Baked Bean Stock

Family panto from Insideout Theatre Productions.

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