Tiebreak, Jack and the Beanstalk

Review in Issue 17-2 | Summer 2005

I came to this show with great expectations, having seen My Uncle Arly, the Tiebreak / HoiPolloi collaboration shortlisted for a Total Theatre Award in 2003. Arly was everything a devised theatre show for families should be – a meticulous ensemble piece with a high level of physical performance skills, demonstrating a visual sensibility in which set and props were fully exploited for their dramaturgical possibilities. Much of the same theatrical intent was evidenced in Jack, which also had a classic text as starting point for a comic physical performance integrated with live music. But the problem came in the execution of the ideas. There was nothing wrong with David Farmer’s witty script or the imaginative visual design by HoiPolloi’s Stefanie Muller. But the performers just weren’t up to the job. The expression Jack-of-all-trades (master of none) springs unfortunately to mind. Much of the singing was out of tune. The multi-instrumental chopping and changing revealed vastly differing levels of musical skill. The use of a doll for Jack in some scenes (such as the beanstalk climb) was a good idea in theory – in practice pretty dire as the performers had no manipulation skills. The young audience enjoyed themselves, but I was left wondering why children should be shortchanged in this way. A director wouldn’t, for example, cast a performer who couldn’t sing in an adult music theatre production and I don’t think that a lower standard for children’s theatre is acceptable – it is certainly not something that companies like Theatre Alibi and Fevered Sleep would allow to happen, and it is not reflective of the standard set by Tiebreak themselves with My Uncle Arly.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-2
p. 30