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Oxford Playhouse - Aladdin

1st December to 14th January.

NWN review:

Nine out of ten, votes discerning Playhouse critic

Aladdin, at the Oxford Playhouse, until January 14

The story of Aladdin, a tale from 'The Book of the Thousand and One Nights', was first turned into a pantomime, starring the famous clown Joseph Grimaldi, in 1813.

The Oxford Playhouse prides itself on its 'traditional' Christmas pantomime, which means that the format remains true to the traditions of Victorian Music Hall. Examples of the exotic orient blend on stage with British comic routines so it is quite natural that a London bobby can be hit on the head with his own truncheon while maintaining order among the laundries and palaces of ancient Peking.

Activities dating back to revelries of the Lords of Misrule give us a cross-dressing cast: a tremendously decorated Dame in Christopher Scott's Widow Twankey and an Aladdin played by the beautiful, feminine Claudia Cadette.

Characters upset the social order. A son of a laundress woos and wins the Emperor of China's daughter, and the evil Magician Ababazar (Clive Hayward) usurps the throne from his twin brother.

But does Aladdin work for its target audience - young children? My fellow critic Robert gives his views:

I found Aladdin really funny. The flying carpet scene was funny with ET, Dr. Who's Tardis and Buzz Lightyear flying across the stage. I liked it when they made funny comments, like when Wishee-Washee went through the roller and come out saying "I was really bored".

I was the first person to boo the evil Abanazar because he had a plan to make himself rich and other people poorer. He was wrong to do this.

The best thing was the mirror dancing scene as it was very hard to do. I liked shouting out "watcha Wishee" and "hanky Twankey". The costumes were great because they were so funny - especially Widow Twankey's. If I were a girl I wouldn't want to wear them! I thought Aladdin was too dreamy and too careless - he was always singing songs. The audience really wanted to sing.

I would give Aladdin 9 out of 10. It gets only 9 because little children would find it scary. It should be for children older than 5.