Jack and the Beanstalk

Salisbury Playhouse, until January 7

THE vivacity of Jack and the Beanstalk, at Salisbury Playhouse, immediately captivates people of all ages. Ella, one of my two young assistant reviewers, praised the beautifully designed set, great performances, slapstick comedy, topical references and hilarious characters, including Pat the Cow! She loved the show's "constant high energy and brilliant use of lighting, sound and set."

Her companion, Louis, who laughed a lot, said the entire show was fun. He was especially impressed by Laura Crowhurst as Pat the Cow and Steven Serlin as the sinister baddie, Nightshade ,who finally, by the magic of the panto, shed all nastiness.

Andrew Pollard's excellent script weaves strands of the familiar story effectively into an exciting, fast-moving show that brims with surprises. Giant Bonecrunch is absolutely amazing - but can the Princess's rescue party evade detection when they dare to pose as Minions?

Magnificent costumes, a massive beanstalk and magical cloudland all contribute to a fantastic, first class pantomime that combines action, dance, music, comedy and excitement with high quality professional performance.

Jemma Geanaus as Fortuna sets the frenetic pace from the start, and the action involves Dame Dorothy Trott, played by Richard Ede; her son Jack, the lively Sam Harrison, and Princess Jill, played by Tanya Shields. J J Henry is King Crackpot, and the pace is maintained by Andrew Ahern, Liberty Buckland and two groups of accomplished young performers, the Blue Beans and the Red Beans.

The cast and the creative team, led by director Ryan McBryde, have done a fantastic job. Design is by James Button; music is arranged and directed by Christopher Peake, lighting by Nick Farman, sound by Jon Roache and choreography by Nicky Griffiths.

The audience's acclaim echoed Ella's verdict: "Overall, a stunning performance!"

Stella Taylor (assisted by Ella Taylor and Louis George)