Mess is missing from so many pantomimes these days, so it’s refreshing to see it in all its sudsy glory in Basingstoke. The stage of the Anvil’s Aladdin is awash for a few splendidly slippery, soapy moments in one of the sloppiest slop scenes seen in a very long time.
That aside, this is a panto that does everything right, but nothing special and the flying carpet is a bit of a disappointment.
But there’s plenty for the kids to enjoy with lots of hissing and booing for Mark Moraghan’s Abanazar, who has one of the best evil laughs in the business.
Chris Pizzey returns for another year as director and children’s friend – this time round Wishee Washee – and does an excellent job of both.
He is an energising presence on stage, handles the song sheet with its young guests skilfully, and keeps the action motoring along as swiftly as PC Pong’s invisible car.
Charlie Guest as Pong is great value but all the cast work well: Jennifer Harding is a sassy, hormonal Spirit of the Ring, Scott Davies an amusingly camp Genie and Nic Gibney’s Twankey – she of the neon hair and neatly turned ankle – a class act.
Children’s TV presenter Mark Rhodes makes an amiable Aladdin, partnered by Ashleigh Mackness’ Jasmine.