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Aladdin review at Lyric Hammersmith, London – ‘wickedly good’

Allyson Ava-Brown, Malinda Parris, Karl Queensborough, Vikki Stone and Arthur McBain in Aladdin at the Lyric Hammersmith. Photo: Tristram Kenton

The villain gets all the best lines in this year’s Lyric Hammersmith panto. Vikki Stone revels in her role as green-faced, purple-quiffed baddie Abanazer; bopping around the stage to the Prodigy’s Firestarter, she milks each gag for all its worth and bathes in every well-earned boo.

The Lyric panto has always walked its own path, marrying urban concerns – this year’s offering is set in the land of FulHammerBoosh – with a familiar panto narrative. Ellen McDougall, recently appointed as artistic director of the Gate Theatre, takes the reins for the second time, pairing up with regular Lyric writer Joel Horwood for a show in which streetwise but cash-strapped Aladdin falls for Jasmine, the daughter of bling-king Emperor One Per Cent. “Are you an actual poor?” she asks him suspiciously, when they first meet.

Alongside Stone, James Doherty is a very game dame and Malinda Parris a formidable genie with a great, big belting voice. The performances compensate for some slightly wobbly moments in the staging – the lighting on the flying carpet sequence could be sharper and there’s a rather sloppy slosh scene that goes on for ages. Some of the topical references feel a little tacked on and a couple of the jokes recycled, but while it doesn’t quite match the glories of Lyric pantos past, it’s still a hugely audience-pleasing experience – and Stone is wickedly good.

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Lively, entertaining and audience-pleasing panto with a brilliant villain