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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Corn Exchange - Aladdin

4th December 2001 to 5th January 2002.

This is from the NWN.

Eastern hiss & boo

Aladdin, at The Corn Exchange, Newbury, until Saturday, January 5

It must be years since I last went to a pantomime, but the air of excitement in the stalls soon reminded me of what I've been missing and that nothing's really changed.

With my three colleagues, George and Louise, both aged five and six-year-old Christopher, I entered an Aladdin's cave with paintings of jewels and precious objects on the walls. They were fascinated by the hanging mobiles of glass and spinning plastic shapes.

The panto began with enthusiastic audience participation, hand-waving and clapping. The colourful scenery and costumes, and loud bangs and flashes, captivated big and little kids alike - and had us jumping out of our seats.

You know the way it goes... or do you?

Boy meets princess, falls in love, princess is kidnapped, boy rescues her and they live happily ever after. Hiss and boo the evil villain Uncle Ebanazar, enjoy the slapstick comedy of policemen Ping and Pong. Aladdin, Wishee Washee, Widow Twankee and the audience join together to help find and rescue the princess, along the way travelling through outer space to arrive at the South Pole. Here they meet dancing penguins and polar bears who become their friends and help retrieve the lamp from Ebanazar.

Not quite the Aladdin story I remember, but this is pantomime after all!

My young companions all agreed that although they liked the whole performance, the best bit was when Aladdin hid in a washing machine, which was then turned on and he shrank. But, in true fairytale tradition, he was eventually returned to his normal self. I loved the acrobatic genie.

Although nearly two hours long, with an interval, the show kept the audience hooked all the way through. Those who plan to go along during the festive season won't be disappointed and I suggest that those who haven't booked their tickets yet do so quickly or they'll miss out on some great fun.