Review: Jack vs Giant review, Polka Theatre

Jack vs Giant review, Polka Theatre 

A refreshing twist on the classic fairytale of Jack and the Beanstalk – with atmosphere, music and even an on-theme reference to the cost of living……

By Ellie Holmes


On Saturday 11 February, the Polka in Wimbledon kicked off its spring 2023 season with Jack vs Giant.

Aimed at children from four to eight-years-old, this is a musical and modern interpretation of the traditional fairytale, with a political undertone. But any serious message is wrapped up in lively percussion and puppetry, interspersed throughout the show. 

From the team behind the hugely popular ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ and ‘How To Hide a Lion’, Jack v Giant is co-written by Polka’s artistic director Peter Glanville ahead of his new appointment at Farnham Maltings, and Barb Jungr (The Singing Mermaid).  

 Peter Glanville said, “Polka are delighted to be producing this new musical inspired by the classic Jack and the Beanstalk story. We hope that children and families alike will be entranced by our tale, which takes us beneath the ground to gold mines, through the sky on a beanstalk and into a Giant’s palace in the clouds.”

An atmospheric mining scene opens the performance and we are introduced to the girl, Jack (played by Hannah Akhalu)  and her Father (played by Henry Regan).

 The father and daughter are financially on the edge,  and they are forced to sell their adored cow Dotty.  On her way to selling Dotty at the market, Jack comes across some magic beans which elevates her to the skies where she comes face-to-face with the greedy giant in a golden castle in the sky.  And, like the fairytale, she is able to release the gold and Jack and her Father are able to live a comfortable life.

 The vibrant chiming and smoke of the mining scene works well as a contrast to the bright, gold and glitter of the giant, who is depicted as a brash and bold Trump like businessman.

The only criticism would be that the transition of Jack to using the puppet version of her was at times a bit hard to switch between. Maybe a slightly larger puppet would have helped.

 A highlight for my 7 and 4- year old was the ‘Jack v the Giant’ song, when the audience were encouraged to join in and sing.

Overall, this is a refreshing, energetic and vibrant take on the original fairytale.

Jack vs Giant is at the Polka until 26 March.