Aladdin review at Richmond Theatre, London – ‘a low-energy affair’
Of all the pantomimes, Aladdin perhaps offers the biggest opportunity to a stage designer. The story is, after all, filled with exotic locations, magic carpets, a chaotic laundry and a cave bursting with untold riches. Ken Alexander’s production may feature all of these elements, but it’s an oddly low-energy affair and with no designer at the helm it’s lacking in visual dash. It all looks rather tired, the costumes disparate and ill-fitting.
Christopher Biggins’ reputation as a dame in the classic tradition precedes him but here he seems uncertain and constricted. Count Arthur Strong as the Emperor Ming appears much more comfortable and along with Issy van Randwyck’s impish Scheherazade they inject a little warmth and personality to an otherwise dull, formulaic production. The only dynamic aspect of this show is the aggressive choreography from Paul Robinson. The rest of the team seem to be simply going through the motions.
The powerhouse performance here is Bob Harms’ Abanazar. His rousing Better the Devil You Know (not the Kylie version) provides the second act with a much needed boost. In fairness, AJ Jenks as Aladdin and Denquar Chupak as Princess Jasmine aren’t given enough stage time to make effective romantic leads but at least they add some strong vocals to the equation.