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

Oxford Playhouse - Aladdin

30th November 2007 to 13th January 2008.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

A lad in China, oh yes it is

Aladdin, at the Oxford Playhouse, until January 13

Peter Duncan has returned to the Oxford Playhouse to direct Aladdin, bringing back the ever-so-naughty Simon Green as the pantomime dame, Widow Twankey, and the charming Charlotte Warren as the hero's object of desire, Princess So-Shi.

Anyone who attended last year's Dick Whittington would feel a sense of déjà vu, because even the coup de theatre, the magic carpet ride, echoes the undersea world Dick took.

The formula, however, remains a good one, and first-time attenders will never realise the pantomime is so similar. The pace is fast and Fraser Collins as the cheesy disco-clad genie of the lamp with a huge afro repeatedly steals the show.

Traditionalists will find their expected Aladdin routines in the show. Comedy cops are flattened in the washing mangle, scary ghouls are frightened off when encountering Widow Twankey, and the damsel in distress is saved by the happy-go-lucky washing boy.

The predominantly Chinese setting enables Duncan to introduce a Beijing Olympics scene where the cast dress up in a variety of sports outfits, all because the Emperor (Michael Remick) "has a thing about lycra".

The scene concludes when a couple of characters race into the auditorium, firing off giant bubbles from tubular foam guns covering all and sundry (and reviewers) with dollops of fairy liquid.

My co-reviewer for Aladdin, Annie, said: "Aladdin has great music and really great stunts.

"The costumes were good and colourful. It was very funny and entertaining with good lyrics and the audience reacted to it which made it interesting and fun.

"Wishie Washie (Howard Gossington) was my favourite character because he told great jokes all the time and he was the most fun.

"The genie was jazzy and I loved the flying carpet. The set was very good and colourful and I really liked the children. The magic tricks with the washing machines and the one when they put the princess in all those different boxes - they were very good.

"Lastly, I thought that Abanazar (Miles Western) was really fun because when the others pronounced his name wrong, he would react in such a way to make the audience laugh."


There is a review in The Stage ("no experiments or risks taken with the classic format").