Tuesday 6 December 2016 12:49 pm
Aladdin at Lyric Hammersmith is the playful reinvention that combines flying carpets with Brexit jokes
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.