Theatre review: Jack and the Beanstalk

Greg McHugh ' Gary Tank Commander ' gives a storming and funny performance as Jack's naughty brother
Greg McHugh ' Gary Tank Commander ' gives a storming and funny performance as Jack's naughty brother
Share this article
Have your say

IT’S touch and go, in the big annual panto at the SEC, whether Jack will ever make it up to the giant’s castle in the sky. The good fairy – Spirit of the Beans – has no idea how to make it happen, since her magic only works down on Earth; and everyone else, from the King to Jack’s daft brother Gary, is equally short of ideas.

SECC, Glasgow ***

So when the beans finally work their magic, and Jack ascends the giant beanstalk into the castle, it should be a big moment, with the panto audience cheering him to the echo; but instead, at the SEC, he’s greeted with a blank silence, as the audience chomps on its interval ice-cream, and waits for someone more interesting to appear.

Making the titular hero or heroine matter, even if only slightly, is a key part of successful panto-making; and it’s so completely absent, in this Qdos script co-written by Alan McHugh and Jonathan Kiley, that the panto feels like a giant doughnut, glittery and tasty, but with a hole in the middle.

Which is a pity; because everything else is in place for a brilliant traditional Glasgow panto, not least a storming and often hilarious central performance from Greg McHugh – aka Gary Tank Commander–as Jack’s naughty brother, eager to upstage him at every turn. Gayle Telfer Stevens and Louise McCarthy, more famous as The Dolls, make a fine double-act as daft aunties Agnes and Sadie, not only meshing perfectly with McHugh’s Gary, but twinkling with emerging star quality in their own right.

And with a 3-D sequence involving a real visual wow-factor, this emerges as a Jack In The Beanstalk full of signs of a bright comedy future for Scottish panto; but slightly lacking the heart that makes for a truly great Christmas show.


Until 7 January