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Aladdin review at Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield – ‘clever script and skilfully woven local references’

Robin Simpson with the young company in Aladdin at Lawrence Batley Theatre. Photo: Anthony Robling Robin Simpson with the young company in Aladdin at Lawrence Batley Theatre. Photo: Anthony Robling

The vibrantly-lit magic carpet taking flight above the stalls is a stand-out moment in Lawrence Batley Theatre’s production of Aladdin. A triumph of technical ingenuity, it’s spectacular.

Thomas Cotran is warm and affable in the title role as he leads the way through this familiar story of wish fulfilment. Meanwhile, Richard Hand’s Abanazar riles the audience effectively, using his voice and presence to drive the call and response.

But arguably the most well-drawn characters in Andrew Pollard’s script are the women. Squinting beneath thick glasses and earnestly spouting scientific theory, the ‘Genius’ of the Ring is a fantastic creation and Stephanie Hackett conveys her awkward intelligence beautifully. The gentle subversion of gender stereotypes is also carried through into the presentation of the princess. “Just call me Jasmine” (Alyce Liburd) wants neither a royal title nor a castle-bound existence – instead she wants to run away in her gold high-tops in search of adventure.

Humour comes in many forms, from silly slapstick to oblique references about the inadequacy of local sports teams. Along with the all-too-familiar riffs on Brexit, the script contains satirical commentary on the changing nature of the monarchy – the Empress (Krissi Bohn) is a commoner queen who conceals her humble beginnings beneath a veil of faltering RP.

The musical numbers, directed by Rebekah Hughes, include well-integrated medleys and mash-ups, with comic highlights coming from the Genie of the Lamp’s (Nicola Jayne Ingram) hilarious verses in Yorkshire dialect. As with so much here, it works wonderfully.

https://www.thestage.co.uk/pantomime/

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Verdict
Thoroughly entertaining and well-performed pantomime with a clever script and skilfully woven local references
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