Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Jack sells the cow for what he thinks is gold, the gold turn into beans, his mum throws them out – cue giant beanstalk. Up the beanstalk Jack meets Molly who is on a quest, not once, not twice but thrice. She wins all her quests, including getting out of marrying Eric as Jack gets enough riches for his village and they all live happily ever after.
Despite the backdrop soundscape of empties hitting the recycle bins from the night before we start the quest of telling the tale that is Jack and the Beanstalk but with a modern heroine thrown in for good measure. With the plot being nicely brought together as Princess Gwendoline, housekeeper to the Giant, is revealed as the daughter of the King whom Molly serves this is tied together nicely in a narrative sense. It includes all of the storyline with which we are all familiar but the inclusion of Molly who has to find items in the Giant’s castle gives the whole enterprise a new focus.
With a relatively small crowd of kids this is a cast who have to put in the extra effort to keep the kids onside. With an overhead projector being used for backdrops this has a definite feel of the Fringe about it. The script is tight enough, the performances measured correctly and it has been directed for a degree of audience interaction which allows the narrative to flow without any complex plot devices. There is very little by way of audience participation though the fourth al is consistently broken to allow questions from the cast to the audience.
Aimed at an early primary school audience the kids in for the show are all engaged and like the mixture of comedy and physicality between Molly and Jack. There is some good use of the actors for the set which adds nicely to the overall ambient feeling of unsophistication. In particular the Travelling Man who was also the King was responsible for the overhead backdrops – if that makes sense – and binds a lot of it together.
It’s a safe bet that many kids and parents have come into this performance and left feeling pleased to have chosen it. There is an assured cast with creative energy but I have to say what it lacked was that added edge and sparkle that would elevate out of the good into something extraordinary.