Review: Jack and the Beanstalk, Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

By Barrie Hudson - 9 December 2021

Arts and CultureFamily
  • Louie Spence as the Spirit of the Beans

    Louie Spence as the Spirit of the Beans

Not a box goes unticked by this year's Wyvern Christmas panto.

Show-stealing performance by a much-loved person from the telly? Check.
Outrageously-dressed Dame? Check.
Musical numbers at the drop of a hat? Check.
Villain with villainous beard? Check.
Amusing pantomime cow with a talent for dancing? Check.
Audience participation? Check.
Daft jokes for the kids? Check.
Slightly risque jokes for the grown-ups that sail safely over the kids' heads? Check.
Louie Spence - dancer, choreographer and star of more TV programmes than you could shake a stick at - stars as the Spirit of the Beans, the cheery and reassuring supernatural entity who leaps, skips and pirouettes through this version of of the perennial panto tale.
He is supported by an equally excellent cast led by Zack Guest as likeable and energetic beanstalk-botherer Jack. Matt Rixon, whose biography in the programme reveals a long list of theatre and TV credits plus the fact that he is the son of actor Matthew Kelly, puts in an excellent turn as Jack's mother, Dame Trott. It is Dame Trott who delivers perhaps the funniest line in the show, involving lettuce and lavatory paper. You'll have to buy a ticket if you want to hear it.
Millie O'Connell takes the role of Queen Fussybutt, making her a glamorous monarch with a slight - but only slight - touch of Miranda Richardson's Queenie from Blackadder.
There isn't a single weak link, and the fact that everybody on stage is clearly having a great time ensures the audience feels the same.
This pantomime, coming as it does at a time of widespread uncertainty and anxiety, is as good a shot in the arm as any vaccination.
Jack and the Beanstalk at the Wyvern Theatre runs until Sunday, 2 January. Further information, including booking details and ticket prices, can be found at

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