Review: Jack. Derby Theatre Studio.

four half

Derby Theatre’s Jack is a gigantic success for 3-7 year old theatre goers. Well, looking at the very sweet young faces of the children being guided to their seats, we might better say, mostly – very first time theatre goers. If our adult hearts and souls could only capture the pure essence of initial wonder and belief in magic of that child being brought into the theatre space for the first time! How wondrous would it be to share that feeling with others? In a sense, that pure essence capturing and sharing of innocence through story telling, is precisely what the three performers Yana Penrose, Jake Waring and Martyn Dempsey do in Jack. The kids love them for it. Every minute out of sixty.

Jack is a gigantic success

The hour long show is based on Jack and The Beanstalk, adapted by Mike Kenny and directed by Sarah Brigham. The stage design and its reveal adds greatly to the magic of the show, as do John Barber’s puppets and the costume designs by Tim Heywood. Composer Ivan Stott creates a great musically comfortable atmosphere for the children to enjoy the daftness and life lessons of the show about Jack and his Giant captors Garbold (Martyn Dempsey) and Gertrude (Yana Penrose).



Even before the show begins the cast are chatting to the young audience and introducing themselves. As soon as a distant thunder clap rattles in the background we discover silly Jack (Jake Waring) about to be chomped upon by the hungry giants. How did Jack get in this predicament? Will he escape? Is the thunder real or is there another reason for all the noise in the sky?


Events unfold through story telling and some cute theatrical invention where characters morph acceptably into other characters to allow the story to continue and thrill the entranced young audience. You’ll believe a bucket is Milky White the cow and you’ll believe that Jack has climbed an actual beanstalk to get to the giant’s house in the sky. You’ll believe a lot of things including the redemptive power of theatre but we are not going to reveal how. That would be like telling you what your Christmas presents contain as they sit sparkling under the tree. The lovely thing is, that this perfect gift of a Christmas show for the young ones, will likely remain in their memories a lot lot longer than the actual gifts under the tree this year.


Two little children who automatically went to sit by this reviewer (even though they weren’t their booked seats) went to sit there because that is where they sat last year. Even as five year old kids they have retained the emotional and physical memory of the exact place and the exact seats where the magic of theatre in the Derby Theatre Studio took place. How optimistically endearing is that? Now we just need to calm down that angry chicken! And we know the perfect song for that. Don’t we kids? “Yeeeeah!”

Like Alice In Wonderland upstairs in the main house Jack allows two theatrical shows, both written by Mike Kenny and directed by Sarah Brigham, to magnificently enhance our Christmas celebrations as 2016 comes to an end and as 2017 begins.

Jack is highly recommended for 3-7 year old children – and their carers – of course.

#DTJack runs until Saturday 31st December.

Reviewer: Phil Lowe


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