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Aladdin: Review

Aladdin: Review

A lively take on pantomime
Chris Coates as Widow Twankey and Darren Simpson as Abanazer in the Lindley Players pantomime AladdinPANTO veterans are in for a shock if they visit the Lindley Players’ new production of Aladdin at Whitstable’s Playhouse Theatre.

Director Cheryl Mumford has turned the tale of Eastern love and magic into an all-singing all-dancing marathon song-fest packed with more than 13 musical numbers and some exuberant dance routines. At times it was quite brash as the relatively young cast pushed the panto experience to another level. Faye Wyatt, looking a bit like singer Kerry Katona on a good day, blasted her way through the numbers as feisty Princess Jasmine. Thigh-slapping all-rounder Jamie Mount took control as Aladdin.

This show had some quite brilliant highlights, particularly the unusual double-act of Anna Pavard’s Slave of the Ring and tubby bald-headed Peter Mills playing the “all powerful” Genie of the Lamp rather camply and in pink silk harem pants. The slapstick clothes-washing sequence in the laundry with Wishee Washee (Jamie Cox), Widow Twankey (Chris Coates) and Chinese policemen Pep-Si and Ko-La, played by Katie Campbell and the criminally underused Richard Adams was a well-rehearsed affair. Former Rubber Biscuit singer Chris Coates is now getting to grips with being a dame, especially in his gold lame mini-dress, although it is debatable if the owner of a Chinese laundry would speak with a northern twang. Lindley veteran Peter Bressington took over-acting to new heights as The Emperor of China and scored a Brucie bonus (“Rice to see you, to see you, rice”) with his spoof of TV’s Blind Date, as introduced by Bruce Forsyth. The black-light ultra violet sequences featuring a giant florescent orange genie and a flying carpet effect with dancing air hostesses were inspired. Darren Simpson was up to his bad old ways as the evil Abanazer, although his turgid version of the Britney Spears’ hit Toxic was just that.

But the whole production was let down by, quite frankly, a second-rate set and some of the most unsubtle lighting and sound mixes ever witnessed. Audiences expect better than this from the Lindleys, who have built up such a good reputation. After last year’s spectacular Jack and the Beanstalk design a simple box set with garish tangerine flats was a disappointment. There were no jewels or treasure to speak of in the cave (unless you include a single flashing rope light) and having black drapes to dress a desert scene just seemed perverse. A retractable cinema screen was used with some effect during the interval to show moving clouds but the rest of the time it just got in the way.

John Nurden

Whitstable Times Review: 28th January 2011