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Sunday, 21 January 2018

REVIEW: Aladdin at Newcastle Boulevard


Aladdin
Newcastle Boulevard
Until Saturday 27th January 2018

What happens to a panto if you cut out the dancing, singing and the kids, and replace them with bad language and extra innuendo? Welcome to the Boulevard’s adult only pantomime – the biggest laugh an adult can have with their clothes on.

Abendover wants to become all conquering and powerful. He calls up the very sarcastic Slave of the Ring in order to find out that he needs Aladdin from the village of Won-Key-Nob to open get the lamp and release the Genie. 

By shedding the show down to the core story, and cutting out the musical interludes and dance routines, the plot actually becomes more discernible. There is also much less of the sets and props. Perhaps this is to panto what Shakespeare is to drama – stripped down and raring to go! 

The show is full of laughs from the start. Stephen Sullivan reprises his role as the evil megalomaniac though this time round we get to hear what we really knew the character was thinking about the audience. Playing opposite him is Miss Rory who is fabulous as the comedic straight man. As the others on set are cracking up, Miss Rory is often keeping a straight face. This is home turf and hence Miss Rory is very comfortable with keeping the rabble in the audience in check. She doesn’t so much as break the fourth wall as smashes it with gusto. Regular monologues about appearing in panto add to the shows charm.

Jacob Anderton also returns, as Aladdin, from the Whickham 2016 panto but there is no Wishee Washee, it is upon his shoulders to be the comic and encourage the audience to greet him whenever he appears. Losing the extra character actually cuts out some baggage and worked really well. Another returner is Charlotte Casey, though this time as the Princess and Aladdin’s love interest, a role she performs with aplomb. Daniel Mawston was fabulous last year as the Dame and he did not disappoint in this production. He was the butt of a few of Miss Rory’s jokes and pranks and that led to numerous laughs.

New to this production is the writer himself, Tom Whalley, who turned the Emperor from a normally quite dry character into a source of many laughs. With no police in this version, he was left to do the dirty work himself. Tom got the humour balance right and didn’t milk it and hence the running jokes didn’t run thin.

The lack of props and set was a source of some, probably unintentional, humour too. The odd way in which the cloth and the curtains moved during the scene change provoked some laughs from those stood at the front.

It is our first time at the Boulevard and standing for the 2-hour show was perfectly pleasant. It seems odd having a bar next to the stage in the spot in which the orchestra pit usually goes. Having staff serving drinks at the start of each act took some getting used to. The staff here seem very friendly and polite and we fancy returning soon to see the delights of the regular show.

It is odd to see two versions of the same panto on two consecutive nights but it does mean it is natural to compare. Last night we saw a family friendly version full of references the kids will get. This, by comparison, is for only broad-minded adults as profanity and innuendo flies back and forth. Both shows know their audience and know how to entertain. Indeed, they share the same writer and hence have some jokes in common. The 12 days of Christmas routine has been replaced with the equally funny If I Was Not In Pantomime song. With a smaller cast and no songs during the main set, the cast have to work a lot harder as they’re all on stage most of the time.

This adult Aladdin was very, very funny. It may be rude and lewd but it knows how to deliver a great night’s entertainment. Same again, next year, please.

Review by Stephen Oliver

Cast
Miss Rory – Slave of the lamp
Daniel Mawston – Widow Twankey
Stephen Sullivan – Abendover
Jacob Anderton – Aladdin
Charlotte Casey – Princess
Tom Whalley – Emperor

Aladdin will be performed on the following dates:
Friday 19th/26th January 7pm
Saturday 20th/27th January 7pm and 10pm




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