Culture critic Madeline McInnis reviews Mindgame at the Belgrade, Coventry.Written by mmcinnis on 16th March 2018
Jack and the Beanstalk at the Wolverhampton Grand
Culture critic Holly Reaney enjoys an evening in Wolverhampton watching their hilarious pantomime
After taking home the award for Midlands Best Pantomime at the What’s On Readers Awards for last year’s pantomime Aladdin, the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre returns with the equally hilarious and charming Jack and the Bean Stalk.
“The storybook design Jack and the Beanstalk retains its quintessentially charming pantomime roots despite obviously boasting a greater budget that the standard amateur production
Starring Gareth Gates as Jack, Graham Cole as Fleshcreep Lisa Riley returning as Mother Nature, and with Ian Adams and Adam C Booth returning as the hilarious double act of Dame Trot and Simple Simon. However, the stand out performance came yet again from Wolverhampton’s own Queen of the Black Country Doreen Tipton, following her success at the British Pantomime Awards, winning the award for Best Newcomer. Tipton brings her characteristic local humour and a ‘lazy cow’ attitude to rival that of Daisy, Tipton’s performance has become more refined and is perfectly integrated into the performance as she throws out lines about disability allowance, child tax benefit and MFI furniture. The chemistry and immense energy between the returning cast is immensely strong, though can leave Gates’ Jack and love interest Jill, played by Sarah Vaughan, appearing slightly side-lined. Despite this, Gates and Vaughan are a well-suited pair and definitely provide a heart-warming romance to the vibrant plot.
“The production is as magical as the magic beans!
With the characteristic bright colours and patchwork, storybook design Jack and the Beanstalk retains its quintessentially charming pantomime roots despite obviously boasting a greater budget that the standard amateur production. A good sprinkling of glitter, sparkle and pyrotechnics and ensures that that the production is as magical as the magic beans.
Once again, the performance was joined by the Wolverhampton Grand Orchestra which beautifully supported the various musical interludes and songs throughout the performance. However, their amazing talent was most evident as they kept up with the most chaotic instance on stage. A rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas which saw toilet rolls flying, several hurtling bags of pork scratchings, audience members being squirted with water and a lot of exhausted actors. I still remain unsure as to how much of this hilarity was scripted and how much was accidental mistiming’s and mistakes but that is testament to the professionalism of the actors even as everything appeared to collapse around them.
“Perfect for all the family which is precisely what a pantomime should be
Booming voice could not prepare you for the incredible giant that is Giant Blunderbore. Preceded by two somewhat smaller cronies who ambled onto stage Giant Blunderbore was a ginormous animatronic giant, who blinked, spoke and even stood to glare at the audience in the circle and dwarf the casts of heroes who were attempting to slay him. I have never seen anything like it, least of all from a pantomime.
With cheese-puns, tongue-in-cheek humour and a large helping of enthusiasm Jack and the Beanstalk is simply put a brilliant night out, perfect for all the family which is precisely what a pantomime should be.