Home » London Theatre Reviews » Jack And His Giant Bigstalk at Karma Sanctum Hotel | Review

Jack And His Giant Bigstalk at Karma Sanctum Hotel | Review

Jack And His Giant BigstalkUp at the Palladium, you will find the ultimate in family Christmas entertainment. With a huge budget, huge sets, an orchestra and more stars than there are in the heavens. Yes, it’s panto timer and Goldilocks and the Three Bears are safely ensconced until January. However, a stone’s throw from the LP, is another panto. It’s smaller, has fewer star names and, as they themselves say, little budget. But going by my visit to the Karma Sanctum Hotel, to see Jack and His Giant Bigstalk, I think I know which of the two pantos I prefer.

In the village of Doggin On the Hill, Dame Trot (Edward Denny) lives with her son Jack (Alex Guersman). Jack is the epitome of a pantomime hero – handsome but a trifle dim. Not the brightest of individuals, he makes up for it by being a loving son to Dame Trot and a wonderful best friend to Daisy the cow (Ben Felton/Alex Reid). He is also a young man who has noticed stirrings in parts of his body and a fluttering in his heart, especially when in the presence of the beautiful Princess Jill (Abigail Bailey). Life could be so idyllic for the Trots and everyone in Doggin On the Hill apart from the malevolent presence of the evil giant Gene Talia (Simon Gross) who doesn’t like the villagers and is threatening to evict the Trots unless they pay their back rent. Reluctantly Dame Trot and Jack decide that Daisy will have to go and Jack sets out to market to get the best possible price for his old friend. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to learn that the handsome yet gullible lad is soon tricked out of his cow for the price of some worthless beans. Luckily, Jack has a guardian in the body of the Fairy Courgette (Eloise Trumper), who just may be able to turn this disaster around and ensure everyone – except Gene Talia – has a happy ever after ending to their story.

So, you have probably guessed that this is an adult pantomime with a capital ‘A’. Written by Terry Morrison and directed by Simon Gross, Jack and His Giant Bigstalk has all of the standard elements found in panto. ‘Oh no it doesn’t, oh yes it does’ etc, cross-dressing, old songs with new words, audience participation and a lovely singalong before the final scene. But, and this is the big difference, in a normal panto, when the baddie comes on stage, the audience will usually produce a round of enthusiastic boo-ing. In this version, we were encouraged to truly give vent to our feelings every time Gene Talia arrived on stage. And believe me, we all entered into the spirit of this freedom with gusto – in fact I heard – and may have uttered – words shouted at the stage that would make a sailor blush, not to mention hand gestures that left little doubt as to the popularity of the character.

But it was all done in good humour and Simon Gross worked his wig off in entertaining the audience. He was out with us as we sat down, leading a Christmas sing-song, he chatted to everyone and didn’t even get much of a break in the interval as he led another round of rumbustious singing. In fact, all of the cast worked really hard to deliver a first rate performance, not letting little things like a falling down curtain or a beanstalk that refused to grow deter them. Young Alex Guersman looked perfect as the dashing hero Jack, oozing sex appeal and innocence in equal measure. My only disappointment – and going by last night’s audience, I’m not alone in this – is that he didn’t take his jerkin off when he whipped his chopper out to bring the beanstalk down. Ah well, you can’t have everything. I also loved Eloise Trumper as Fairy Courgette – and it was interesting to find what that vegetable is really for – Eloise looks so sweet in her wonderful fairy costume – congrats to Charlotte Webb and Clare Roberts for all the costumes – but had a wonderfully expressive face in her interactions with Gene Talia that left nobody in any doubt what she thought of her nemesis. To be honest the whole cast were magnificent and there were so many brilliant moments that the roughly two and a half hour sped past so fast, it was almost a surprise when we reached the end. Panto is an odd form of theatre as, due in part to the unpredictability of things, it relies on a cast that are perfectly bonded and work together like the gears of a well-tuned Rolls Royce. Luckily, that cast exists and were on stage together last night.

Finally, a mention for guest star Former cage fighter, former Hollyoaks actor and winner of Celebrity Big Brother in 2010, Alex Reid who not only gave an added element to Ben Felton’s magical Daisy the Cow, but also managed to set many a heart fluttering during a rather intense dance with a very lucky Dame Trot. Speaking of dancing, I really enjoyed the choreography during some of the songs – particularly Michael Jackson’s Thriller which, despite the size of the stage, really enhanced the song.

Adult pantomime is not for everyone. And, as stated before Jack and His Giant Bigstalk is very adult. It is loud, boisterous, irreverent, very, very rude and truly awesome. For me and my companion, Michael, it was a perfect Christmas show, where we started smiling as soon as we sat down and did not stop until we left. The theatre isn’t massive but that works to the show’s advantage giving a real sense of involvement for the audience who sing along, laugh and cheer with gusto. Once more, we could be children enjoying a panto but with all the restrictions of being a child removed. Simon Gross has form for putting together a great Xmas show. This was my first and I’m already looking forward to next December’s offering, especially if there is another raffle. Yes I won, and it was all above board and I took away a prize that fitted the theme of the panto and didn’t cause me any embarrassment heading home on the bus at all.

So, to finish my final review of the year, my advice to you is this. Give the sprogs to a relative, neighbour or the milkman, and get yourself down to see Jack and His Giant Bigstalk, sit back, relax and for a couple of hours, forget the horror of preparing for the festive season.

5 Star Rating

Review by Terry Eastham

The team that brought the 2017 sell out Christmas season Snow White and the Seven Poofs and last year’s A Lad In Soho fly back into the West End for 2019 with a brand new show for 2019 Jack And His Giant Big stalk starring Big Brothers Simon Gross in the title role as the very evil Giant Gene Talia and introducing Alex Guersman in the title role of Jack Last year’s show A Lad In Soho got critical acclaim and rave reviews from its 2018 Christmas run and the team are now back for 2019 but bigger, bolder and ruder!

Join Gene Talia The Evil Giant Jack, Jill, Fairy Courgette, Dame Trot, Expect lots of laughs audience participation galore, marvellous music , dazzling costumes, and giant-sized jokes This pop powered pantomime features feel good party anthems I Will Survive, Electric Dreams, Don’t Stop Me Now, Thriller, Tragedy, We Go Together and many more. Makes this perfect and only way to kick off your Christmas with a bang making this London’s Number One Adults Only Pantomime!!!

Karma Sanctum Soho Hotel
Warwick Street,
Nearest Station –Piccadilly Circus
Performances are scheduled from
13th December -5th January 2020 at 7.30pm with matinees on at 4pm on Sundays

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