Dave Carey
Rayne Theatre, Chickenshed

Bethany Hamlin (Tech support 1), Ellie Carroll (Jack) Michael Bossisse (Tech support 2)and Eleanor Jordan. Credit: Daniel Beacock
Cara McInannay and Ashley Driver Credit: Mark Field
Jack Credit: Daniel Beacock

Things are not looking good for Jack at the start of Chickenshed’s festive version of Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack (performed in the blue rota by Ellie Carroll) lives with her family in dire poverty, often relying on food banks to eat. Her father, who used to run the local amusement arcade, died when she was much younger. Now when she visits the arcade, a gang of kids bully her. She sums up the way she feels by singing “I am Jack the nowhere kid”.

Returning home, she finds there is no food to eat. Her brother Lil’un (Ajani Mukuru-Onaolapo) has eaten the last of the three-day-old egg curry and there is no money to buy anything else. Jack decides she will sell her console to get them food.

Unfortunately, two suspicious-looking techies referred to as Tech support 1 (Michael Bossisse) and Tech support 2 (Bethany Hamlin) persuade her to swap the console for three lives in a video game. It doesn’t look like a great swap, especially when Jack and her brother find they become part of the game and in level one’s dance competition task, they accidentally choose a dance avatar competitor (Gabriel Palmer) who is in a wheelchair and on the next level an eight-year-old who is to go up against raging monsters. Except this being one of those happy folk tales, they somehow manage to win the competition, meet a very special avatar and are given a bit of a pleasant surprise by Techs one and two.

Initially, we imagine they might be intending to simply trick Jack out of her console. However, between occasionally squabbling about whether Samsung or Apple are better, they do what they can to help Jack and even somehow sell her console on a future market to deliver a considerable sum of money.

The show is a lot of fun even if you aren’t always sure what is supposed to be happening in the video beanstalk game. A cast of 700 divided into a rota of four groups perform remarkably well in lively choreographed musical dance sequences, often led in song by the impressive singing voices of either Ellie Carroll or Cara McInanny.

There’s much humour, a surprise end-of-the-show game for the audience and a strong likelihood that everyone will leave the theatre in a happier mood.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

*Some links, including Amazon, Stageplays.com, Bookshop.org, ATG Tickets, LOVEtheatre, BTG Tickets, Ticketmaster, The Ticket Factory, LW Theatres and QuayTickets, are affiliate links for which BTG may earn a small fee at no extra cost to the purchaser.

Are you sure?