Pantomime season being upon us, the four-year-old, the baby and I headed to the charming grounds of Cogges Farm for this performance in the chilly but well equipped (they supplied blankets and mulled wine!) barn room. The show consisted of a simple but colourful stage setting and four main cast members from the M and M theatre company.
A pantomime is a family experience and this would certainly appeal to young children, with its slapdash humour and Mr Tumble-esque characters. The toddler enjoyed the music including the current children’s birthday party favourites of ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ and ‘Happy’, and the references to The Gruffalo. The baby loved the characters such as the giant baby, the cow, and Humpty Dumpty. There was also a good amount of audience interaction and the actors improvised well when faced with the inevitable interruptions from enthusiastic kids. They undertook their roles with gusto and it was apparent they were enjoying themselves.
At risk of dampening the Christmas spirit, I did, as an adult, feel that there were too many tangents and less focus on actually telling the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. There was deviation into Jack and Jill and some other sub-plots, at the expense of the main story where we didn’t actually see an actual giant on stage (was a face on a TV screen instead), and there was little mention of the pivotal points of the traditional story such as the talking harp. We were disappointed that the exciting end of the story when the beanstalk gets cut down as Jack is physically chased by an angry giant, was not included in this version. Then again we are die-hard fans of the original so perhaps that is just us being pedantic!
In summary, this provides a good start to Christmas season: it’s fun, it’s silly and preschoolers will love it.