Hackney Empire is quickly earning itself a reputation as the best place in London to find a Christmas pantomime. Last year's performance of Mother Goose was an unexpected stand-out success and was reportedly seen by over 50,000 people. And this year, again under the direction of Susie McKenna and Steven Edis, the pantomime is a hilarious and - dare I say it somewhat political - take on the fairy tale classic Jack and the Beanstalk.
The secret behind the best Christmas pantomime in town, perhaps lies with the star of the show, Clive Rowe, surely the only Olivier Award winning Dame ever, who as Jack's mother and Dame Daisy Trott comes complete with glass-shattering singing voice and face so expressive he can buckle the audience with a single look.
Something also has to be said for the structure of the pantomime. Based only loosely upon the classic fairy tale story everyone knows and loves, the show is intertwined with modern concerns disguised as fairy tale myth.
This is the magical land of Hackney Dales, which has spent the past 15 years sunk in a mysterious winter. This Global Cooling (if you will) is being caused by the greedy giant in the sky, whose obsession with gold is sucking resources and ruining the planet. Sound familiar?
Narrated by Julia Sutton as a batty, patchwork wearing Mother Nature, the story follows fishnet-wearing Jack, played by the gifted Debbie Kurup fresh from The Bodyguard, who tries to protect his family from the giant's crippling tax and nasty cronies. Alongside his trusty friends, the bookish Off Her Trolly Molly (Gerogie Oldma), the hopeless Clumsy Colin (Darren Hart), and weird, dancing Jamaican snowman (Kat B) brought to life by Mother Nature, the goodies climb up into the sky and attempt to reason with a remarkably realistic giant.
Expect a brilliant range of songs and dance routines, including Taylor Swift's Shake It Off, and extraordinarily dazzling costumes modelled by Dame Daisy Trott, some of which come with moving parts. This is likely to be the best pantomime you'll see all Christmas no matter if you're 4, 44 or 444.
|What||Jack and the Beanstalk, Hackney Empire|
|Where||Hackney Empire Studio Theatre, 291 Mare Street , London, E8 1EJ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Bethnal Green (underground)|
21 Nov 15 – 03 Jan 16, Performance times vary
|Price||£10 – £35|
|Website||Click here to book via Hackney Empire|