Creation Theatre Company - Aladdin and the Magical Lamp
6th December 2012 to 5th January 2013.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
A light shining in Oxfordshire
But there may be dark days ahead for Creation theatre company after the summer deluge
Aladdin and the Magical Lamp, at the North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, from December 6 to January 5
We all know that the New Year's social function is to act as a ray of light during the gloomy months of winter. The analogy is true for Creation Theatre Company, founded in 1996.
An artistic beacon in Oxford, with wonderful, committed management over the years, its 2000 Midsummer Night's Dream set high standards, with its location on the banks of the Cherwell - a truly magical experience with candle-lit rowing boats transporting characters to the grassy set.
Last summer's excellent Merchant of Venice matched the RSC in its quality, while the annual winter shows in the Mirror Tent at the BMW factory warmed audiences with their panache.
This winter's Aladdin and the Magical Lamp, in the artistically safer setting of the North Wall, however, could be the company's farewell show, a dramatic result of last summer's terrible deluges.
If there are any philanthropists reading this review, with some money left in a trust fund, Creation is a worthy recipient of any charitable donations: £30,000 needs to be secured immediately so that the trustees can recommend another year's activities.
The festive drama is written by longstanding Creation actress Lizzie Hopley, and directed by Creation favourite Charlotte Conquest.
Played on Neil Irish's inventive set, which makes full use of the theatre's width, it's a traditional fairytale story of poor boy meeting rich girl.
Tailor's son and street urchin Aladdin (James Yeoburn) catches the eye of the want-away princess (Isla Carter) while her father, the Sultan of China (Nicholas Osmond) is intent on eradicating every single germ in the land.
Chris Porter steals the show as the sultan's jobsworth functionary who even sprays audience members to cleanse them of bacteria. It's hilarious when he harangues a poor guy in the front row for wearing the wrong sort of trousers when in the presence of the sultan.
The beaky evil sorcerer (Timothy AUsop) gains laughs with his Bond villain-like ambitions on China. As with the Playhouse's panto, a feature is made of an aerialist, here the Ring Jinnee (gamine Anna O'Loughlin) whose gyrations on a flowing length of silk draws generous applause.
There are reviews in The Public Reviews ("good, solid family fun... very slow pacing... a good, solid festive family show although it never quite reaches the dizzying highs that make it a must see" - 3 stars), The Stage ("at times its whimsicality flounders a little, but it is always entertaining... enough laughs to keep all ages happy")