When Above The Stag Theatre lost its Victoria home (literally above the Stag pub) due to area redevelopment almost two years ago, producer and artistic director Peter Bull was determined to continue the spirit of this beloved LGBT production house. After much scouting, he eventually located and settled in an isolated but expansive railway arch in Vauxhall… and what a blessing in disguise that was! Now housing its own licensed bar, it already has a packed first season under way with the traditional annual Christmas risqué pantomime. Always a welcome treat, this – Jack Off the Beanstalk – is the fifth consecutive one penned by the ever-imaginative Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper.

Always managing to stick to the traditional well-known story, with a dash of artistic licence and gay embellishment, this is no exception. Jack Trott and his simple brother Simon live on a farm with their mother in Yorkshire's least tourist-friendly village of Upper Jumper. They can't afford the rent imposed by the evil land owner Lord Fleshcreep, who wants to evict them anyway so he can stage a festival, so they decide to sell their last remaining cow, Kylie.    

When all Jack gets is a handful of magic beans from fairy Fanny Goblin, it seems they're doomed until Dame Trott's reckless disposal of them in the yard causes a beanstalk to grow, at the pinnacle of which lives a lonely giant. You know how it goes. In this version though, it's not his height that's big. This giant has been cursed by a huge 'member' which turns anything it touches into gold. Naturally, the boys exploit this – just financially, I should add – and, with a little help from Fleshcreep's rebellious niece, Maisie, they manage to avoid eviction. 

In the meantime, in topical sub-plot heaven, Cillian O'Connell, a young disgraced TV talent-show hopeful, on the run from the press, falls for Jack on first sight – and the feeling's mutual. But Fleshcreep has his beady eye on Cillian too and kidnaps him into slavery. But we know it's all going to end happily… don't we?

As pantomimes go, Jack Off the Beanstalk has few musical numbers but it makes up for it with plenty of gags and runs at a fair length. However, this production does have one added feature: 'Odour-Drama'. Audience members are each given a card on which are numbered stickers, to be scratched and sniffed when directed by the cast. This certainly enhances the fun factor and gets everybody involved in an original way.   

With a veritable flurry of double entendres and mixed metaphors, Matthew Baldwin provides the star turn as Dame Trott. His dry, deadpan delivery, facial expressiveness and comic timing are on the money as he plays the role to perfection. Just as entertaining and with innuendos galore is Ian Hallard's Fleshcreep – the epitome of sleazy pervert – although I suspect he isn't as frightening to the discerning demographically-challenged audience as he would be to your average child. This is definitely an adult-only affair,

The romance between Chris Clynes' down-to-earth Jack and Joseph Miller's self-obsessed Cillian comes quick but is believable and Toby Joyce gives Simon a genuinely lovable fool to be on-side with as his attraction to Rosie Bennett's determined Maisie develops. Stephanie Willson is an endearing Fanny Goblin and Steven Rodgers' gentle but well-endowed giant is lovable with his untraditional local chant: "Ee By Gum!". But it's Kylie, the lesbian cow, who steals the show – if she doesn't make it to the National by Spring, I'd be very surprised. Some cows are gay. Get over it!

Jack Off The Beanstalk, at Above the Stag Theatre

What's dirty and smells and makes you laugh out loud? Yes, it's the annual bawdy pantomime from Above The Stag at a brand spanking new Vauxhall venue.

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