Tag Archives: Ian Talbot

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk



Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk

Online and in cinemas

Reviewed – 3rd December 2020



“The witty jokes, jolly songs and dazzling costumes all combine to provide a show for the whole family to enjoy”


There’s no denying it’s been a tough year, and the hardships the theatre industry has endured cannot be understated. With so much uncertainty, it was touch and go as to whether we’d be able to enjoy a traditional pantomime this year. A small number of theatres are going to be performing panto to much smaller audiences than they’re used to and some are going online, so we can enjoy a bit of light-hearted entertainment from home this festive season. Filmed over the summer on sets in the writer and director’s own back garden, Jack and the Beanstalk is one such online alternative. Peter Duncan, former Blue Peter presenter, actor and theatre and film maker, presents an hour and a half of the fun, energetic antics we have all come to expect from this uniquely British tradition.

We first see a family at home where a little girl receives a parcel – a Jack and the Beanstalk story book – and we are then transported into the world of the story and the girl’s imagination. This is an engaging introduction and should really captivate the children who are watching from the outset.

The show begins and the Garden Fairy appears in a bold, bright costume. As with live pantos, we are encouraged to interact early on and, in this case, “shout at the screen”. We are introduced to an array of quirky characters including Jack (Sam Ebenezer), Dame Trott (played by Peter Duncan himself), Giant Blunderbore (Yuval Shwartsman), who spends his time terrorising the villagers from above, and his dogsbody Fleshcreepy (Jos Vantyler), amongst other characters. All actors commit well to their roles, are entertaining to watch and supported by an energetic ensemble.

Throughout the story are timely, light-hearted references to the current Coronavirus pandemic including a song about lockdown at the start and plastic screens used for the characters’ romantic embraces at the end of the show.

Costumes (David Morgan) are everything you would expect from a traditional panto, from the over the top dame outfit to the dainty dress worn by the female lead. The design of Giant Blunderbore is particularly effective. We see him towards the end of the show, having only heard his bellowing voice before then.

Jack and the Beanstalk is performed in the traditional panto style audiences will be familiar with. The witty jokes, jolly songs and dazzling costumes all combine to provide a show for the whole family to enjoy. Nothing can beat the feeling of being in a theatre and seeing a live production, but the cast and creative team have done tremendously well in their attempts to replicate this feeling for us – catch it while you can.


Reviewed by Emily K Neal



Jack and the Beanstalk

Online via www.pantoonlne.co.uk and at Everyman Cinemas from 4th December. At Showcase cinemas from 11th December




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The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ – The Musical

Ambassadors Theatre

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ - The Musical

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ – The Musical

Ambassadors Theatre

Reviewed – 3rd July 2019



“joyful, energetic and hilarious, with some moments of real tenderness and yearning”


I admit to being unsure if Sue Townsend’s geeky Mole would translate well as a piece of musical theatre, and I’m happy to say that my scepticism was unfounded. The show is joyful, energetic and hilarious, with some moments of real tenderness and yearning that bring a tear to the eye. It is a piece that truly reflects the time in which it was written and is set, the early 80s. There are lots of references that older audience members clearly enjoyed; Pebble Mill at One, Malcolm Muggeridge and, of course, the Royal Wedding. And it matters not at all that the younger ones don’t pick up on those moments; the lives of Adrian and his friends and family have plenty for everyone to relate to and enjoy.

The children’s parts are each played by a rotating cast of four. Adrian was played by Rufus Kampa this evening, and the huge applause and standing ovation he received were richly deserved. His Adrian had all the awkwardness and angst of Townsend’s much loved young teen, coping with his parent’s awful marriage and break up and discovering himself as an intellectual with a passion for the feisty, pretty new girl at school – Pandora. And Rebecca Nardin’s Pandora was pitch perfect; the flame that called to Adrian’s moth, sparkling, feisty and very funny. Her voice has a range and depth that are unusual in such a young performer, and she has a wonderful comedic instinct. Jeremiah Davan Waysome played Adrian’s friend, and rival for Pandora’s attention, Nigel with a lovely cheeky energy and the school bully, Barry, was made suitably odious by Jack Gale.

The adults in the cast also play children, and were clearly having a lot of fun doing so. The poignant moments between Adrian’s parents, Pauline and George, played by Amy Ellen Richardson and Andrew Langtree, were beautifully moving, and Richardson’s song ‘Perfect Mother’ was so full of sadness and regret that it hurt. ‘How Could You?’ a painful and powerful argument between Pauline and Grandma allowed both women to let rip with passion, a serious and intense moment, and a reflection of many such a confrontation from the real world. Rosemary Ashe’s Grandma is, by turns, fun, interfering and helpful to Adrian and his Dad, and she brings verve and a fabulous voice to the role. Ian Talbot gave a good turn as the grumpy communist Bert and Laura Denning clearly relishes hamming it up to just the right degree as Miss Elf and Doreen Slater. The final member of the adult cast is John Hopkins, and he somehow managed to strut, bluster and give a storming performance that was always just on the right side of overacting. His vile Mr Scruton, the headmaster, was a great, bombastic villain, and the sleazy lothario, Mr Lucas from next door, was just deliciously awful.

Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary first wrote the book, music and lyrics in 2012, when they were ‘a pair of naive twenty four year olds.’ They met Sue Townsend and she was so impressed that she sold them the rights for a pound. She was worried that the story may be dated but, as Brunger and Cleary explained to her; ‘Despite the internet and mobile phones and all those terribly modern things, spots were still spots, school was still school, and boys still measured their things.” Director Luke Sheppard has translated their vision into a show that bounces with life and allows the early eighties to exist without trying to alter things for our contemporary sensibilities.

There is some inspired and very funny, choreography from Rebecca Howell and Mark Collins and the musicians do a great job with the score. The lighting design, by Howard Hudson, is unusual and effective and Tom Rogers’ set is an evocative, flexible home for the action. I found myself humming ‘Misunderstood’ on the way to the tube. This show has some good tunes too! The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ – The Musical is an excellent adaptation vividly brought to life by an outstanding cast


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Pamela Raith


The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ – The Musical

Ambassadors Theatre until 12th October


Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
The Thread | ★★½ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | March 2019
Yamato – Passion | ★★★★★ | Peacock Theatre | March 2019
Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough | ★★½ | Park Theatre | April 2019
Little Miss Sunshine | ★★★★★ | Arcola Theatre | April 2019
Man Of La Mancha | ★★★★ | London Coliseum | April 2019
Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew | ★★★★★ | Leicester Square Theatre | April 2019
On Reflection | ★★★★★ | Underbelly Festival Southbank | May 2019
Zara | ★★★★★ | Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park | May 2019
Elixir Extracts Festival: Company Of Elders | ★★★★★ | Lilian Baylis Studio | June 2019
Napoli, Brooklyn | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | June 2019


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