REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk, The Quay Theatre, Sudbury.

Byan Thutlow (Dame Durden) and Daisy the cow.
Byan Thutlow (Dame Durden) and Daisy the cow.
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By Anne Wise

Old-fashioned pantomime fun and slapstick comedy go together to make Sudbury Dramatic Society’s Jack and the Beanstalk a good time out for all the family.

It has custard pie throwing, uplifting sing-alongs and unexpected audience participation, making it a fun and entertaining show. There are a few bangs and flashes that make you jump, and very effective special effects such as strobe lighting.

It starts off with the creepy villain, the giant’s henchman, Maggotblight (Richard Fawcett) dressed as a postman, warning the audience they might be next to get an invitation from the hungry giant.

With most of the village ending up on the giant’s menu, the audience had better watch out who he threatens.

As we don’t see the giant (Geoff Banwell) – who looks like a cross between a larger version of Grumpy from the seven dwarfs and a troll – until the second half of the show, a good sense of anticipation is built up.

In the meantime, we were able to do lots of booing and shouting when the villain came on stage.

We went to a Saturday matinee performance which was packed with children and adults, including a group of Beaver Scouts. To our audience, the hungry giant said: “Fee fum, fi, fo, 20 Beavers in a row” which got a laugh – except from the worried Scouts.

Smiley Jack is played really well by Sadie Belsey and she has a good rapport with Jelly (Ryan Ingram) and Custard (Chris Badrick) who are the King’s enthusiastic paiges. Their “coincidence” routine was perfectly timed.

King Fearnought III (Denis Brogan) made us laugh because he is afraid of everything. He has great stage presence and timing.

The energentic Dame Durden (Bryan Thurlow) is full of beans, too, and together they make a good double act.

As well as keeping the jokes flowing, the Dame worked hard to keep the audience laughing, especially when she picked a member of the public to come on stage to power the pie-making sploge machine.

She decided to call him Fido and said: “Pedal as if your whole wonderful future lies with me” which made him slow down immediately.

Considering there is only a cast of around 11 people, they put on a high-energy performance which seemed like there were many more involved.

We thought the King, the Dame and Jelly and Custard were very entertaining, as was Jack who got a big laugh for slapstick humour when he flopped down flat on a bean cushion.

In the end the giant is defeated and Jack gets his girl, Jilliana, the King’s daughter, and Faerie Willowgreen (Anthea Halstead) floats on stage to declare that all is well.

The cast’s final dance performance to What Does the Fox Say? was very entertaining.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs until December 29.