Theatre review: festive fairy tale reboot

December 9, 2022

Image courtesy of Chickenshed

Leona Omotayo Frater is moved to tears by emotional story with ‘giant’ twist

Chickenshed’s Jack brings visual vibrance, unforgettable music and stunning set designs – all in time for the festive period. Directors, Michael Bossisse, Bethany Hamlin, Cara Mclnanny and Robin Shillinglaw took a modern twist on Jack and the Beanstalk by changing the concept of the beanstalk to levels on a video game.

Hector Dogliani starred as Jack who gets lost in the magical world of the arcade games and has a mission to compete against various characters in a series of different worlds. Each level on the game is encapsulated with original songs and dance routine choreographed by their team and performed by actors between the ages of five to 18.

Incorporating a modern technological twist transforms an outdated fairy tale into a story much more relevant and relatable today. Many children of this generation can connect with Jack’s obsession with his video games. According to Statistica, 82% of children ages between 12 and 15 own a game console.

Jack explores the death of his father (**Spoiler Alert**) who turns out to be the giant he is fighting against.

The emotional relationship between Jack, his sister and their father personally struck a chord with me

The giant who was always portrayed digitally via a screen transformed into human after the revelation – a moment that brought me to tears. Seeing the emotion of the children seeing and speaking to their father was moving.

Coming from an extremely family oriented background, the emotional relationship between Jack, his sister and their father personally struck a chord with me. The execution of presenting his father in both digital and human form at various parts of the story line was clever. The emotional distance was felt when he was in digital form but the distance closed once he was in physical form.

It was incredible to see a vast spread of ages, all coming together, as well as performers with physical and emotional disabilities – something we do not see often enough in theatre productions. Chickenshed embrace young people from all sorts of backgrounds and to be a part of a world so inclusive was incredibly touching.

It’s a family friendly production with great acting and amazingly radiant stage sets

All in all, the performance was phenomenal and highly entertaining for children and adults. There was accessibility for those with hearing impairments with seamlessly integrated sign language throughout the whole show (including songs); and an option of audio description for those with visual impairments. Larger spaces are provided for wheelchair users or those with impaired mobility too.

I highly recommend a trip to Chickenshed this winter to watch Jack. It’s a family friendly production with great acting and amazingly radiant stage sets. It is guaranteed to be an impressive theatre experience.

Jack is showing at Chickenshed, 290 Chase Side, London N14 4PE until 7 January 2023. Book your tickets here.

Leona is a BA Psychology graduate from Roehampton University. She is currently a production assistant. She loves reading, cooking and music. She plans to write a children’s book one day.

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