Shakespeare had the notion first in The Comedy of Errors – the comic opportunities presented by two sets of estranged siblings separated at birth. Now Exeter Corn Exchange has shamelessly borrowed it, with the same actor playing both Widow Twan-kei and Abanazar in this offbeat reworking of the Arabian Nights fantasy Aladdin.
This results in hectic costume changes, and the use of judicious doubles, for Daniel Page in the dual role, claiming he relies on Abanazar’s “boo-ze” to get him through.
Writer/director Ian Berry adds to his makeover by bringing Matt Finegan’s narcissistic Genie of the Lamp into much greater prominence. Lyn Burgoyne’s moody Soothsayer Sal-ami is another new arrival.
Meanwhile, Christopher Edward’s sprightly Aladdin and Keeley Cooper’s free-spirited Princess Jasmine of necessity play down their usual romance, once they discover they are brother and sister (this is not a traditional Aladdin), while Will Trafford’s Wazoo (the new order Wishee Washee) remains just as fond of a quip or three as his alter ego.
All this is commendably inventive, but a colourless cardboard set, and the use of canned music, drops it several rungs down the pantomime league table.