15th December 2021

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime
Yes folks it’s panto time. ‘Oh no it isn’t!’ I hear you cry. ‘Oh yes it is!’ I respond.

This afternoon I’ve bean (see what I did there?!) to a marvellous matinee performance of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon.

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime - stage curtain

It felt good to be back after the Covid-created-Christmas-hiatus of 2019 – Nerf guns at the ready!

So this year’s panto offering from the Wyvern Theatre is the much-loved tale of Jack and the Beanstalk – billed as the giant (geddit?) pantomime spectacular.

Headlining the cast, as the Spirit of the Beans, is Louie Spence. And it seems I may be the only person in Swindon to comment ‘Louie who?’ at that information. Sorry – never heard of him. Well I have now! What a vision in pea green tights and cute silver boots he presented as he pirouetted on stage whenever it was his cue. What with that and his charmingly camp (affected?) demeanour I’m now quite conversant with Louie Spence! And that’s a good thing.

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime - Louie Spence
Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime – Louie Spence

Book tickets to the pantomime here:

https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/panto-swindon-pantomime

Pantomime elements

All panto productions contain around five stock characters:

1. The evil villain – in this production, Fleshcreep
2. The damsel in distress – Jill in this instance
3. The hero – Jack
4. The Principle boy – sometimes the same as 3 – traditionally played by a girl but that doesn’t happen so much now.
5. The pantomime dame – always played by a man – in this production it’s Dame Trott.

Then there’s comedy characters, a panto animal, a slapstick scene, audience participation – and a theatre full of children at a fever pitch of excitement! Some or all of those and more occur in every panto across the land and this one is no exception. You know exactly what you’re going to get and that is, of course, the absolute joy of the thing. The tradition of it all. And isn’t it the best way to introduce children to the joys of live theatre?

I’m really passionate about pantomime because it is often the first introduction for a child to theatre, and if that child has a great experience at a pantomime they will continue to come year after year.

John Barrowman

It’s all here

So of course all the above is present in this glorious-green-bean-themed pantomime production in spade loads. One of my favourite parts is the carefully co-ordinated slapstick scene. It’s always the same, ‘If I weren’t in pantomime’ routine which involves carefully timed arm warming and squatting and great potential for it all going wrong – as I’ve witnessed at a previous Swindon panto season. And not forgetting of course the perennial It’s behind you’ sequence.

All the cast are really great but I feel I have to give special acting honours to Daisy the cow – played by herself. That cow had some great eyelash fluttering and downcast expressions going on. Not to mention some nifty footwork – impressive moovements!

So if you’ve not booked yet why not? It’s running until the 2nd Jan so you’ve surely got time to go? Book here and anticipate some good old-fashioned festive theatrical fun.


A history of pantomime

If you want to know more about the history of pantomime this page from the Victoria and Albert museum is worth a peek.

‘Outlandish costumes, broad comedy, celebrity turns and audience participation – the now-familiar trappings of the classic British panto owe much to the enterprising Victorians, whose innovations cemented the popular art-form that we know and love today.’