The Royal Vauxhall Tavern boasts a rich and diverse cabaret history that continues to this day, with its small stage regularly playing host to popular cabaret names on the club circuit. You might expect the annual adult panto to be an uproariously subversive piece of queer cabaret featuring more single entendres than double, but Rubbed actually turns out to be a rather tame piece.
Director Tim McArthur roots the show in traditional pantomime and the cast rallies to create a fun piece of entertainment for the punters. The problem with Rubbed is in Paul Joseph and Tim Benzie’s overworked script. Framed as a sequel to the Aladdin story, Topsie Redfern’s amiable Genie is estranged from Alan Hunter’s conceited, filthy-rich Aladdin while Abanazar is out to reclaim ownership of the lamp. The political references are laboured, the character development is skewed and the piece only really lights up when the performers go off-piste.
There are lots of popular tunes with reworked lyrics and the vocal arrangements and performances are the best thing about this show. This is thanks to musical director Aaron Clingham, who has been doing overtime in Vauxhall this season – he’s also doing duty across the road at Above The Stag.