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Aladdin (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: Aladdin

Society: Fairfield Halls Croydon

Venue: Ashcroft Theatre, Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, Croydon, Surrey CR0 1JD

Credits: by Jon Monie. Produced by UK Productions.


2 stars

Photo: Jack Dryden

This pantomime has some good features. Davood Ghadami has terrific stage presence and a splendid voice, although when he sings it’s mostly “singspiel”. The eight year old sitting behind me told me he thought “the baddie” was the best thing in the show and I agree with him – one of the best Abanazers I’ve seen for several years. And his pretend out-of-role asides are delicious.

Also strong – and that’s unusual in this relatively minor role – is Mark Peachey as the querulous, money-grabbing emperor. And any one that can do three back flips from standing still as rubber bodied Ross Dorrington does repeatedly as the Genie of the Lamp gets a big round of admiring applause from me.

The rest of the cast are competent but generally unremarkable. And why does the otherwise reasonably entertaining Charlie Guest as Wishee Washee have to pace/trot backwards and forwards across the stage almost the entire time he’s on it like a stressed lion in a cage? It gets very irritating after a while.

The curved, side thrust extensions to the stage, which make it C- shaped and create a sort of discrete band area for the three musicians led by Tom Knowles, are imaginatively used. Set design is by Jon Harris, Jason Bishop and Ian Wilson. Most of the backdrops and other flats and props are colourfully traditional and fit for purpose.

There are problems, though with Jon Monie’s script. Panto is always billed as being for the whole family. This one is far too wordy for the youngest children. The ones sitting near me were so restive, noisy and bored  that I missed some of the punchlines – although it has to be said that the timing of the jokes is often weak so that those punchlines are allowed to fall flat anyway. Many of the jokes are way over the heads of most children and some didn’t get a laugh at all although there was a loud adult chortle at a line about Prince Harry’s parentage. Moreover there are far too many gratuitous sex jokes which barely raise a titter from anyone and bypass the children altogether.

It’s always good to see something new in a panto, though and the scene in which Richard J Hunt as Widow Twankee and Charlie Guest pretend to be ballet dancers and perform a tortured scene with a balloon is fun. Otherwise we get a very boring slosh scene, hardly worthy of the name and a ghost scene which works adequately enough if you haven’t seen it 500 times before.

First published by Sardines:


Author information
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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