Sarah Punshon, directing her first show for the Dukes since becoming its artistic director, starts on fine form with this high-energy and hugely enjoyable zip through Aladdin. It whizzes along, jam-packed with songs, silliness and some light-touch moralising.
Spoiled Princess (Dora Rubenstein) wants more stuff, while poor Aladdin (Marcquelle Ward) just wants food on the table. When he meets the Genie of the Lamp (an extremely entertaining Delme Thomas), Aladdin’s heart’s desire is a satsuma.
With Genie’s help, Aladdin thinks a bit bigger, kitting himself out in a natty green suit and wooing the Princess with his magical wealth. Her tastes run to “silks from Kashmir” while his tend more toward “candles from Ikea”. Can such a pair find true love?
It’s Christmas, so of course they can. Uniting to fend off Aladdin’s wicked Uncle (“a really, really, really bad baddie” played with glee by Arif Javid), Aladdin and the Princess soon learn that love is about more than material things and people are more important than possessions.
Ward is a hugely likeable Aladdin, Helen Longworth gets plenty of laughs as his long-suffering mother, and there’s enough pizzazz about Thomas’ flamboyant Genie to entertain the harshest of critics: an audience of primary schoolchildren.
Mike Kenny’s script is warm and witty, with a sprinkling of anti-consumerist digs. The whole show is clearly done on a shoestring (Mika Handley’s costume design makes excellent use of dressing gowns and glitter), but it’s full of thought and care – which is what really counts.