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Aladdin (Susan Elkin reviews)

Aladdin – ★★★
Produced by Selladoor Worldwide (Prime Pantomimes)
society/company: Broadway Theatre Catford
performance date: 12 Dec 2018
venue: Broadway Theatre Catford

★★★

Prime Pantomimes’ inaugural show is very inclusive. The cast is fifty percent BAME (black, Asian, minority ethnic) which I really like. I also approve of the Emperor having morphed into a feisty Empress – Melissa Nettleford who doubles as a lively Spirit of the Ring and sings well.

So, Selladoor in collaboration with Immersion Theatre which are behind the new company, have made an interesting start. James Tobias’ Aladdin script is crisp, very light on innuendo and full of suitably corny, and mostly ancient puns although even I giggled at mourning for a husband, Gav, who died of heartburn because, well, Gaviscon.

This is Duane Gooden’s panto dame debut and he really makes Widow Twankey his own – flirting, simpering and looking silly in outrageous outfits in the traditional way – but also bringing a delicious freshness to it all, complete with Caribbean accent, so that it doesn’t feel imitative or stereotyped.

Unusually both Aladdin (Luke Street) and Wishee Washee (Samuel Freeman) are strong and they work exceptionally well together with lots of charisma, repartee and excellent movement work.

Wayne Rollins is clearly enjoying himself as Abanazar (whose ultimate punishment is to be made to work for Lewisham Borough Council) using gravelly RP between the malevolent cackles except when he falls amusingly out of it and into “estuary.”

There’s a plenty of fun in this panto with lots of local jokes and asides as it seeks to bed itself into the area exactly as the Hackney Empire panto has done for decades. And it delivers the traditional elements in spades including a good ghost (mummies, actually, as it’s Aladdin) scene played with all the right rhythmic repetitions

The music (played live on keys and drums) is, however, bone-shakingly loud and the balance is often awry. There were lots of instances of singing being almost drowned out by the band – at least in Row S where I was sitting. And the sets and designs are a bit lack lustre.

 First published by Sardines: http://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/reviews/review.php?REVIEW-Broadway%20Theatre%20Catford%20(professional%20and%20amateur)-Aladdin%20-%20%E2%98%85%E2%98%85%E2%98%85&reviewsID=3424
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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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