PMD Reviews

Hear what the Purple Moon Drama Reviews team have to say about the latest theatre and performance around London.

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Jack and The Beanstalk Theatre Royal Stratford East (Nov 2023)

December 15, 20232 min read

Opening the performance with a music and dance number, I was instantly plummeted into Splatford-on-the-Ooze, the setting for this traditional once-upon-a-time modern-day spin of Jack and the Beanstalk, written by Anna Jordan, set in a magical mud mining town.

The scale of this production feels immersive and vibrantly all-consuming in the best way! A journey of epic proportions, executed by Lily Arnold’s set design heavily complimented by Simisola Majekodunmi’s lighting design, we go on an adventure! From the junkyard-esque yet colourfully bold Splatford to Shepherd’s Bush (yes…the Shepherd’s Bush) and up to the hallucinatory inducing sky kingdom and back again.

Packed with puns and gags, both political and playful, naughty, and nice, Jordan cheekily and cheerfully engages an audience of all ages without talking at or down to anyone. And it’s not surprising! Having engaged in her work as a playwright, admittedly in a very different capacity, she has established a reputation for writing about young people in a way that feels mature, funny at times and authentic.

This is paired with Robert Hyman’s composition of the musical numbers that attempt to reflect the diversity of not only the cast but Stratford as a whole, which made the performance feel a lot more grounded in a reality that felt familiar. It’s a massive spectacle that incites child-like wonder regardless of your age. There was always something to relate to or have a laugh at, whether it be the quick wit and effortless command of the audience by the theatre Dame Milky Linda played by the legendary Nathan Kiley, the sweet throwing and bubble popping and happy birthdays being sung amongst the audience, to the unexpected cameos of well-known antagonists as the Joker and Darth Vader during an incredible musical number by Flesh Creep and Junior played by Lucy Frederick and Jamie Lynch respectively. A dynamic duo that kept me captivated throughout with their shenanigans, with Junior’s outburst in particular, both provided and facilitated a lot of laugh out loud moments.

Overall, the cast really held their own and one another in contributing to create an infectiously high energy and interactive performance. From the ensemble duo, Eli London and Jamie Tait’s slick and hilarious transitions from Splatfordians into back up dancers and more, Max Gill as Bill whose voice was beautiful and presence was always warm whenever they took to the stage and Savanna Jeffrey absolutely shone as the hilarious Maccy D’s loving singing-talking cow, Winnie the Moo.

We mustn’t forget the protagonist played by Nikhil Singh Rai who conveyed Jack’s naivety and conviction both playfully and with care. His performance in this pantomime really did hit home for me, that with a little bit of self-belief, music and a community that ordinary boys could do extraordinary things!

4 Moons Out Of 5 🌕🌕🌕🌕

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Yasmine Dankwah

Yasmine is a writer and spoken word poet. She's obsessed with music and is interested in live performances that celebrate joy amongst communities who we often don’t get centred in those narratives.

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