jack and the beanstalk

3 Dec


it seemed that there were to be no pantomimes at all this year. And sadly, most of them have been cancelled because of the Pandemic. Peter Duncan, tv actor, and Blue Peter hero, had a great idea. He gathered some friends together during the lovely hot summer and invented a panto, using his garden, his neighbours garden, his shed, lots of trees, St Michaels Church Southfields, an assortment of balloons etc just for him and his friends and families to appear in or to watch over the Christmas holidays. To his amazement, it was taken up by a film company and the whole thing was made into a pantofilm, and will appear at various Everyman cinemas over the festive season. It begins with a little girl at the fireside longing for a pantomime but unable to see one cos of virus restrictions. Her father is sad for her, but tells her to shut her eyes and use her imagination.And, by Golly, there it is. The garden is turned into Fairyland by a single wave of the magic wand by the wonderful Nicole Blackman in a luscious floating magical gown as the Garden Fairy,On comes Jill, a sweet and pretty heroine played by the sweet and pretty Sarah Moss. A delicious morsel for the rude and angry giant up in his castle in the sky. We have the evil but cowardly Flesh creepy character played by the great versatile actor Jos Vantyler whose job it is to collect tasty human beings for the Giants dinner. He has to persuade the humans by various means and very different disguises and a variety of different accents.There is the handsome boy Jack, played by the very handsome Sam Ebenezer who has a very fine voice. Veteran actor and past time governer at the Regents Park Theatre Mr Ian Talbot plays the Squire Shortshanks, father of Jill and, from being a wicked man wanting to evict jacks mother from her garden shed turns into a pretty nice creature at the end undergoing a lot of comical suffering. often at the hand of Dame Trott, Jacks mother. Played of course by the star of them all, Peter Duncan himself giving his perennial North Country Dame. Of course, being a pantomime, anything can happen and a few things did and were ‘kept in’ Seeing what they had at their disposal, it is incredible what has been achieved. The scene changes are believable, different settings all around that same area. Not only has Duncan managed to engage six starry people to play the main roles, he also has a chorus, a mixture of people of all ages who sing and dance and fill in the gaps. There are occasionally twenty-two people on stage and they are all dressed alike in witty costumes by David ‘Daisy’Morgan.The most appealing character in Jack and the Beanstalk is, of course, the cow – named in this panto Buttercup. The perpetrators of this character were not to be seen except under the cowskin but they were played by Julia Gale (She does double duty as Choreographer) and Chris RedburnIn addition, there are a whole lot of highly well-remembered jokes from pantomimes seen in the past hundred or so years. And other jokes reminding us of the current situation without moaning about it. What a joy. We should thank Gustav Holst for providing us with an anthem for the show. A hymn that I always remember as ‘I Vow to thee my Country’. Here it is parodied and sung beautifully by our hero as he climbs the tree, and repeated by the full chorus at the end, giving us a rousing and somewhat tearful finale to the show.Duncans Panto is a great joy. Join in, shout and sing.

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