ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK written by Alan P Frayn Directed by Steph Evans Bollington Arts Centre Pantomime season has nearly come to an end for the season 2021/22, with its Dames, thinly veiled innuendos, and a chorus of ‘oh no he didn’t’ and ‘oh yes he did’s’. Pantomime is traditionally based on well-known fairy tales, folk tales and fables and who among us doesn’t know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk? Directed by Steph Evans, who also had a hand in a plethora of other aspects to get this fun panto to stage. A good pantomime should be able to engage people of all ages however there is something to be said for knowing your audience and tailoring your work to them. The local and topical references that were added into the script were very funny. It’s a fairly well-known fact that the Dame is the real star of the pantomime and Ian Loi-Mason’s performance as Dotty Dimple is further evidence to this. His skilful encouragement of audience participation and his comedic timing was a pleasure to watch. With big hair and an even bigger personality, Ian was confident in his delivery and added lib quite liberally. If anything went awry, it didn’t faze him. This can also be said for Ashley Hemp, who as Simple Simon, worked hard to engage the audience throughout. He always made sure that when he came on stage he had the audience shouting out his signature saying. He freely joined in the on stage banter. He was a good sport and stooge for the slap stick humour, especially in the kitchen scene. The title character of Jack was confidently portrayed by Freya Griffiths, who looked exquisite as a Principal Boy. There was an innocence to trusting Jack but when courage was needed there was a strength to the character that this actor brought out. There is always a “love” angle for the main character of pantomime, a prince or in this case Princess Charlotte aka Mary Ellis. She played this character quite demurely. While both seemed to struggle a little singing in duet, both gave good, strong solo performances. I was particularly impressed by Mary’s rendition of “Castle on a Cloud”. It is not easy for other characters to make a mark on stage while the main principals are in full flow and sometimes characters’ fade away in panto but Giles Gaddum as the King had obviously worked hard on creating King Crumble. He had created a specific voice and delivery style for the character that quite often got