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Aladdin review at Bristol Hippodrome – ‘remarkably joyless’

Hayley Tamaddon, Joe Pasquale and Alexis Gerred in Aladdin at Bristol Hippodrome. Hayley Tamaddon, Joe Pasquale and Alexis Gerred in Aladdin at Bristol Hippodrome

Someone at Qdos Entertainment didn’t get the memo marked “it’s 2017” before staging Aladdin at the Bristol Hippodrome. Or indeed the ones marked “racial insensitivity”, “plot”, or “jokes”. Here’s a pantomime that takes a desperately out-dated approach to anything ‘foreign’, oddly lumping together China, Northern Africa and the Middle East as one and the same in this remarkably joyless seasonal offering.

The apparent draw here is Joe Pasquale as Wishee Washee, whose main ‘comedy’ turn is thrusting his crotch out like an arthritic Elvis impersonator. But at least he makes the effort. Attempts at local humour clunk harder than Pasquale’s hips and a post-interval 3D sequence uses graphics of 90s video game quality.

All this takes place in so-called ‘Old Peking’ that contains – a la George Formby in 1932 – a Chinese Laundry. Only there’s also some pyramids and Scheherazade. And King Kong. And a large snake.

The biggest shame is the stench of cynicism that pervades the whole endeavour. Christmas shows and pantomimes can serve a genuine community purpose. When racially clumsy and faux local dross like this is served up in a multicultural city like Bristol, there’s only one thing to say: Christmas is cancelled.

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Joe Pasquale and Marti Pellow star in a limp, outmoded and joyless pantomime