Every town or city has its own take on pantomime and the Cambridge Arts Theatre’s festive offering is neatly suited to its genteel surroundings. This year’s Aladdin shuns full-on gaudiness in favour of a family-orientated, and often rather sweet, show.
Written by Al Morley, the script is peppered with local place names and references. The set has a hand-drawn, illustrated storybook feel to it, there’s a Waitrose joke and Princess Waterlily (Suzie Mathers) opts to traverse Old Peking – how else? – by punt.
Likewise, there’s something quaintly old-school about the inclusion of tap dancing (courtesy of Wayne Sleep, who plays the baddie Abanazar), and ventriloquism from Max Fulham as Wishy-Washy and his sidekick Gordon the Monkey (who, according to the credits, is “playing himself”).
Fulham’s repartee with Matt Crosby’s Widow Twankey (marking six years for Crosby as the Cambridge Arts Theatre Dame) is one of the shining lights of this panto. There’s genuine warmth between the pair who nail the slapstick comedy moments in particular.
Crosby also gets to sport what is quite likely the panto Dame outfit of the year. Designed by Sue Simmerling for Carry on Costumes, it’s made of a hanging basket worn like a giant nappy and overflowing with pub garden flowers.
But above all, at the centre of proceedings are the children, including a small team of volunteers, making for a particularly warm-hearted and family-friendly pantomime.