While it’s essentially a traditional local panto that sticks firmly to the conventions of the genre, there are flourishes of real quality in Imagine Theatre’s new production of Aladdin for Falkirk Town Hall Theatre.
The star turns are well-travelled Scottish stage and screen actor Libby McArthur – well-known in these parts for her roles in television series such as River City and Taggart – as the Empress, and Barbara Bryceland as the Spirit of the Ring.
Both are ensemble parts, rather than starring roles, yet McArthur brings significant acting chops to the role that she breezes through, blending straight performance and comedy with ease. Bryceland’s powerful singing voice, meanwhile, is a significant asset to Stuart Bird’s production.
A local performer who reached the latter stages of The X Factor in 2007 and The Voice in 2012, Bryceland’s acting abilities are decent enough for the role she’s been given; yet in an all-singing cast, she belts out her share of contemporary and classic pop hits with real power.
Alongside Emily Cochrane and Ross Jamieson in the clean-cut roles of Princess Jasmine and Aladdin, and a local troupe of young dancers, the show is truly stolen by Craig Glover’s Widow Twankey and Scott Watson’s Wishee Washee.
The duo make a skilled and in-tune comedy pairing, who trade barbs, light double entendres and skilfully worked physical comedy with enthusiasm and perfect timing. A scene in which Watson is fed through a series of laundry props, in particular, is expertly done. From ‘old Peking’ to Egypt, the production marries old-fashioned pantomime traditions with modern sensibilities with some style.