- The Stage - https://www.thestage.co.uk -

Aladdin review at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford – ‘energy, colour and laughs’

While Disney’s Aladdin plays to packed houses in the West End, Guildford offers its very own take on the pantomime version of the Arabian Nights tale. Some traditional conventions flourish here, notably Emma Thornett upholding the role of principal boy and playing Aladdin with an effective mix of charm and chutzpah. Together with Jamie Brook’s comic Wishee Washee and Peter Gordon’s gruff Widow Twankey, they make a strong dysfunctional family unit, which in turn grounds this rags to riches story.

Janie Dee as the Genie of the Lamp seems a peculiar misplacement of resources as Jamie Smith’s script provides little for the award-winning actor to do. Dee does pull off a few slight-of-hand magic tricks but blink and you’ll miss them. At least Rachel Knowles’ feisty Slave of the Ring gets some great gags at the expense of the north-south divide. Undoubtedly the biggest laughs of this show come via the lightening wit of Kit Hesketh-Harvey as Abanazar. Hesketh-Harvey is unrelentingly louche as pantomime’s favourite uncle and his exploitation of an individual audience member is both clever and funny.

There are some terrific effects including the ubiquitous flying carpet sequence, two Chinese dragons and an elephant for Aladdin’s triumphant return to Peking. Jamie Attle’s costumes are less successful however, providing the glitter when necessary but lacking variety or invention.

Verdict
Satisfying if unadventurous local pantomime full of energy, colour and laughs

Production

Production
Aladdin
Venue
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
City
Guildford
Starts
December 9, 2016
Ends
January 8, 2017
Authors
Jamie Smith
Director
Gerry Tebbutt
Musical director
Bryan Hodgson
Choreographer
Jill Francis
Lighting
John Harris
Sound
Tony Gayle
Costume
Jamie Attle
Technical
Victoria Wilkinson (sound operator), Loz Tait (wardrobe)
Stage manager
Davin Patrick
Production manager
Liza Cheal
Cast includes
Janie Dee, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Peter Gordon, Emma Thornett, Jamie Brook, Ray Griffiths, Rachel Knowles, Charlotte O'Rourke
Producer
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Running time
2hrs 30mins