Jack Off the Beanstalk

Any show which gives the audience a scratch-and-sniff card to join in the fun with the actors has to get a thumbs up. Novelty or not, Above The Stag (now in its new venue under a railway arch in Vauxhall) offers a giggle-a-minute in its latest pantomime Jack Off the Beanstalk. If you go by the title alone, you know what sort of evening you’re going to be in for, and writers Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper do not disappointment. With enough innuendoes to fill several of the arches in Vauxhall with husky gay men laughing silly and then some, Jack Off the Beanstalk knows how to tickle our fancies. Yes, it’s a little thin in places and yes, it does drag on slightly too long, but when you give over to this hilarious pantomime you can’t help but be entertained and head into the darkness of Vauxhall with a beaming smile.


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Bradfield and Hooper have mostly stuck to the traditional story of Jack and the Beanstalk, but no giant meets poor Jack when he mounts the stalk. A man cursed with a giant penis that turns anything it touches to gold, well, that can be expected. Jack, played by the warm and charming Chris Clynes, is naturally the only gay in the village, who is sent to sell his precious Kylie, the cow, at market. He meets a stowaway reality TV star, Cillian O’Connell (the sweet Joseph Miller) and falls in love. But this bond can not be as Cillian finds himself a slave to Lord Fleshcreep, the rich landowner (brilliantly vicious Ian Hallard), who uses and abuses him for all his talents (less musical, more sexual). Naturally there’s a dame, played by the rather hilarious but engrossing Matthew Baldwin and eventually good prevails over evil.

Against the plethora of pantomimes across London, Above The Stag really hits the mark in knowing its audience and how to deliver what it wants. It’s far from a lavish production, but Director Andrew Beckett does well within the intimate performance space. Whilst there are some questionable songs (they just felt too flat for me) the dialogue is razor sharp and the cast know exactly how to get a reaction. It’s difficult to not lose yourself and shout out and join in the fun, just as pantomimes should be. Silly, outrageously funny and festive filled, Jack Off the Beanstalk is a must see.

Jack Off the Beanstalk is playing at Above the Stag until 5 January 2014. For more information and tickets, see the Above the Stag website.