Clive Rowe’s dame: what a winker
At the end of one of the most troubled years since its revival in the 1980s the Hackney Empire has bounced back with a show rated five stars by The Times and hailed as “the pantomime to beat this year”.
Dominic Maxwell says that Jack and the Beanstalk has “the spectacle, the songs, the sense of knockabout fun that all pantos strive for but few reach”.
Other newspaper critics were only slightly less effusive. The Guardian dubbed it the best panto in London, giving it four stars, as did the Evening Standard, Financial Times and Metro.
It’s a mark of pride for Hackney that its Christmas shows so often win over the critics so convincingly.
Loving Dalston is tempted to give the show five stars even before taking its seat in the stalls. Why? It stars Clive Rowe, a good actor, but surely also London’s most underrated soul/jazz singer?
If you can’t find a child to take, don’t worry: the Hempire panto is perennially popular with gangs of girlie and girlyish types, sniggering evilly at the two or three jokes that float above juvenile heads.
David Altheer 081210
* Jack and the Beanstalk (writer-directer: Susie McKenna), until 9 Jan 2011, £9.50-£24.50, discounts for groups of 20-plus; a few free tickets are available for under-25s through the A Night Less Ordinary scheme. Box office: 020 8985 2424