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Ricky Oakley as Jack with Jagger the Cow © Geraint Lewis

Review: Jack and the Beanstalk

This year’s Oxford Playhouse panto offering is undoubtedly its most ‘side-splitting-est’, ‘down-with-the-kids-est’ and ‘mum-and-dad-savvy-est’ to satisfy the grimmest of Christmas humbugs
Amrou Al-Kadhi as Judy Hench © Geraint Lewis

"Ricky Oakley as the show’s hero is truly spot on"

Jeremy Smith

 

Remember the chorus to the Sound of Music’s ‘Maria’?

“How do you solve a problem like Maria?

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?”

Well strangely, that’s the position I find myself in – how do I write a review of this year’s Oxford Playhouse panto, Jack and The Beanstalk, without it sounding like an exact rerun (or at least shameless facsimile) of last year’s?

Indeed, having reread my reviews of the theatre’s last ten pantos, I realise they all boast one cosmos-sized similarity: superlatives – a never-ending stream in fact that ranges from ‘greatest’, ‘funniest’ and ‘loveliest’ to ‘freshest’, ‘smartest’ and ‘wildest’.

To counter this trend, I have thus created a whole lexicon of new ones, through which I convey the same sentiment of years gone by, but without the ‘been there, bought the t-shirt’ echo...

Ricky Oakley as Jack with Jagger the Cow © Geraint Lewis

 

So here goes. This year’s Oxford Playhouse panto offering of Jack and The Beanstalk is undoubtedly its most ‘side-splitting-est’, ‘down-with-the-kids-est’ and ‘mum-and-dad-savvy-est’ to satisfy the grimmest of Christmas humbugs.

In turns startlingly ‘original-est’, ‘satirical-est’ and ‘outrageous-est’, writer/director Steve Marmion’s third Playhouse panto is a tour de force of brilliantly ‘topical-est’, ‘up-to-the-minute-est’ and ‘joyous-est’ jokes, songs and performances.

Two hours of audience cheers, boos, hisses, screams and laughter flies by in the blink of an eye, and what’s more, considering the year the world has suffered through, it’s just about as ‘right-on’ as can be without attracting the attentions of the CIA.

It is of course an ensemble achievement but Ricky Oakley as the show’s hero is truly spot on; a perfect cocktail of Blue Peter presenter-cum-Declan Donnelly, he does brilliantly to stand his ground against the two, fiercely razor-sharp dames of Amrou-Al-Kadhi and Paul Barnhill.

In short, a ‘triumph-est’ knickerbocker glory of laughter, joy and wonder.

Please can I go again?

 

Jack and The Beanstalk plays until 7 January.

 

Images © Geraint Lewis

 

Related Articles: No Classy Irony: Panto at Oxford Playhouse