We all know the story of
Molly’s inclusion not only as a female counterpart to Jack, but as the pair’s more able adventurer, gives the story a welcome and refreshing twist.
Steve Hirst’s design and direction and Karina Wilson’s writing keep something of the pantomime style we might expect from Jack and the Beanstalk at the root of the story – a 2D mobile wooden cow, broad characterisation and a smattering of silly puns. This is usually toned down, though, to make the characters more personable, especially Jack (Barney Lawrence), who is the audience’s proxy in the story. He and Molly (Lysanne van Overbeek) get to know the audience as we arrive and remain a friendly, familiar presence in whom the children are well and truly invested.
Molly’s inclusion not only as a female counterpart to Jack, but as the pair’s more able adventurer, gives the story a welcome and refreshing twist. However, the contours of the overall narrative remain much the same and Molly’s additional, interwoven storyline, seems more of a detour than a radical departure. The result is a whimsical and sometimes meandering tale in which neither character’s arc seems revelatory for themselves or the audience.
Still, C Theatre have plenty to engage us: there are several points at which the audience are asked to contribute to the storytelling, such as by pointing out to the lead characters what they can do next to solve a problem. At the play’s conclusion, the audience is asked onstage to join the company in a dance. Whilst the production would benefit from more of these moments, the cast’s obvious enjoyment working with young people is itself enough to invite us into the adventure.
If nothing else, next time they encounter Jack and the Beanstalk, the young people in the audience will be able to tell their friends and classmates about the other character, who’s a girl, and who always seems to be left out of the story.