Jack and the Beanstalk
Grand Opera House, Belfast

In this production, directed with great chutzpah by Grand Opera House director Derek Nicholls, the theatre has found a pantomime well worthy of its Victorian splendour.

At no other time does its exotic, gilded opulence come to life more vividly than at Christmas and this year the combination of Hugh Durrant's gorgeous set and costumes, Joe Lewis' atmospheric lighting and John L Evans' excellent musical direction enable a unanimously strong cast to bring a familiar, age-old tale to new,contemporary life.

This classy show somehow contrives to encompass a Cosmic Fairy in the hour-glass figure of Gladiator Scorpio, tiny tot heroes George, Zippy and Bungle, local news reporter Ivan Little as a lisping King Crumble, rasping- voiced David Griffin as a thoroughly horrible Fleshcreep, Belfast's May McFetridge as Dame Trot, mischievous Scouser John Evans as everybody's mate Silly Billy and the completely unsquashable Su Pollard as the hapless Jack Trot - and still makes sense of it all.

There is plenty of stage trickery at work in the form of a sprouting beanstalk and a mechanical giant, whose sheer bulk must ensure a place in the record book of Belfast theatre. Lovely stuff.

Jane Coyle

The Stage
December 1997