Your ears will ring, your heart will sing. Not for the Lyric the genial unfolding of a well-loved folk tale with added knockabout business and the odd show-stopping set piece. This loud, front-foot Jack and the Beanstalk is nine-tenths set piece; a production, by Nicholai La Barrie, machine-tooled for uplift. Who needs interval ice creams? The show is all sugar rush.
And dairy product, too. The setting is Dame Trott’s World of Milk (“Whatever the situation, we’ve got your lactation”), a family business threatened by fiendish Fleshcreep and his unpayably high taxes. That’s why Jack must sell his beloved cow Daisy – even if it’s a stretch that, with Jack so streetwise and smart, he does so for a can of baked beans. No matter – with a wand-wave from secret fairy godmother Jill (Maddison Bulleyment supplying the show’s big heart) – Jack and fam are soon ascending vegetation to Fleshcreep’s celestial mancave. There they encounter a giant that’s two parts industrial refuse facility to one part fairytale ogre.
What we don’t encounter is any of the topical satire that characterised last year’s Lyric panto. In its place, charismatic performances all round, from Emmanuel Akwafo as the drama-queen dame, Finlay McGuigan as hapless Simon, dreaming himself the show’s star, and Jodie Jacobs (“mwa-ha-ha!”) as Fleshcreep. There’s top-notch deployment of the EastEnders sting when the latter’s identity is revealed, and sumptuously OTT costumes from design studio Good Teeth.
A moral underpinning is supplied when, as our hero hoovers up geese and golden harps from the baddie’s lair, Jill invites Jack to consider collective not individual gain. By uniting the whole theatre in good cheer, this Jack and the Beanstalk doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk.