Aladdin at Lyric Hammersmith is the playful reinvention that combines flying carpets with Brexit jokes

 
Simon Thomson
Aladdin at Lyric Hammersmith
4.5

Some pantomimes rely on hiring former celebrities to lure in the crowds – “Where are the best years of my career?” “Behind you!” This production has no need for such gimmicks, having instead a tight script that playfully reinvents a classic, high-energy dancing, inventive use of pop songs, engaging performances, and lots of audience participation.

It know its audience too; there are jokes about Glyndebourne, Brecht, a dig at Richmond for being low-brow, it puts Article 50 through the wringer, and the baddy is called Nigel David Theresa Donald Boris Abanazar.

Arthur McBain plays Wishy Washy with the earnest vim of a CBeebies presenter, laying it on a little thick for adults, but establishing a direct line to younger members of the audience. His struggle against corpsing provided a delightful unintended subplot.

The Genie is somewhat underutilised, which is a pity because Malinda Parris plays the role with barrels of sass, and has a hell of a set of pipes. Meanwhile, James Doherty’s Widow Twankey is a charmingly non-PC throwback; a pantomime dame in the traditional mould, all bad puns and innuendo, relentlessly throwing out dad-jokes, and the occasional political jibe.

What the physical comedy lacks in finesse it makes up for in exuberance and spray-foam, and although the sets tended towards the underwhelming, the effects used for the flying carpet are genuinely brilliant.

This panto has it all: it's a stroke of genie-us.

MY REVIEW, BY FREYA (age 4)

Aladdin was amazing. The best character was Princess Jasmine because she was amazing. The funniest character was Wishy Washy because he was very funny and did duck noises until everyone shouted, "You can do it!" The scariest part was when the police were chasing Aladdin. The best part was at the ending, which was very happy. Star rating: 1 bad star and 6 good stars.

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