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Review of Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the BeanstalkA few months ago, I’d never heard of Zoom and I suspect that neither did the theatre companies who have been putting on their productions through what was basically video conferencing software since the lockdown began back in March.

In the past four months or so, I’ve now seen several productions using Zoom and frankly they’re all becoming a bit samey. As I said a few weeks ago in my review for Ovo’s production of Twelfth Night, in a very short time Zoom productions already have their own tropes and clichés and are becoming a bit repetitive and I’m afraid that goes for Buglight Theatre’s on-line production of Jack And The Beanstalk.

Adapted from a 2019 stage panto production, it tells the well-known story of Jack, his Mum, the Giant and other assorted characters but with a contemporary spin. There are the usual panto cast with a dame, a villain and of course someone dressed as a cow. All the actors give their all although at times that leads to shouting – quite a lot of shouting – and over the top but acting but as this is basically a panto, some leeway is allowable. It must be very difficult putting on a production where the actors are in places such as Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast. Add to that the complicated technical aspect of putting on a production via Zoom and Buglight should be congratulated on their considerable efforts.

Aimed mainly at young children, the graphics are bright and cheery, and they’ve added their own spin to the visuals with the use of Snapchat like overlays which were a lot of fun and gave the images an extra layer. As usual, there’s a lot of audience participation and the kids seemed to be having a great time, dancing singing and booing – as were a number of older groups who joined in with the fun and frolics.

As with all these Zoom shows, the production companies, the actors and the technicians should be lauded in their efforts to keep working during these turbulent times. I think on-line productions will be with us for some time before live theatre returns and may even be around after that as part of the creative mix – I just hope there’s some evolution in the productions and they don’t become too clichéd and turn audiences off.

3 Star Review

Review by Alan Fitter




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