Peter Duncan's Jack and The Beanstalk (pantoonline.co.uk)
It was with
a heady mix of great sadness, longing and Christmas cheer that I sat down on my
sofa to watch this production of Jack & The Beanstalk created, written and
produced by actor and broadcaster Peter Duncan of Blue Peter fame.

Christmas
isn’t Christmas without a trip to the panto, so if you can’t make it to one of
the cinemas where it’s showing (Everyman and Showcase) then watch it at home, perhaps
over Christmas with everyone in the household co-opted in to watch together.

Giant Blunderbore
is threatening to eat all villagers who don’t pay their rent so Dame Trott
sends Jack to sell her beloved cow Buttercup. But Jack is scammed and only
comes back with a bag of beans. 
Meanwhile his girlfriend Jill is kidnapped by the Giant’s evil chef Fleshcreepy
and taken to the Giants lair in the sky. 
Will Jack be able to save Jill and the world from the evil giant?

And there’s
the problem: reinforcing negative sexual stereotypes makes it seem sexist and
out of date, which is made so much worse since the Dame is played by Duncan but
Sam Ebeneezer takes the role of principal boy rather than the traditional
female actress. It’s such a shame, as this casts a shadow on the piece and will
be off-putting for many Mothers. It begs the question how responsible is it to
reinforce damaging sexual stereotypes to little girls ie that they need to wait
for a man to rescue them and secondly that all the best roles go to men? It
feels more 1920 than 2020.  Several major
opportunities to be current have been missed here which is such a shame!


Otherwise,
it’s an endearing take on the story we all know and love with all the pop
culture, silly jokes, funny antics, singalong songs, boos and it’s behind yous
that we all love in a panto and a familiarity which I found myself particularly
craving this year.  And there’s no point
watching with a po-face.  This is very
much a time for stepping up and yelling at the screen on cue for maximum enjoyment.

There’s no
doubt that unless you live with a crowd, you’ll miss some of the initial cues
to get involved, which serves to remind us just what a devastating year it has
been, but this film provides a little bit of comfort at a time when most
festivities have been cancelled, if you can get over the sexism.  Would I take my kids to see it though? Tell
them that in 2020 girls need to wait for a boy to rescue them? Oh no I wouldn’t!


In addition
to playing at Everyman and Showcase cinemas nationwide, Jack & The
Beanstalk will be streaming online at www.pantoonline.co.uk




Picture
courtesy of www.pantoonline.co.uk