Aladdin at the Lyric HammersmithCultureTheatre
A delightfully zany pantomime with a hip hop vibe, Joel Harwood’s Aladdin is on at the Lyric Hammersmith. A Keystone Cops type of slapstick comedy for children, this charming twist on a classic British Christmas tradition is highly entertaining for adults also, with its saucy double entendres, hilarious comic appeal and outstanding singing and dancing. With huge audience interaction throughout and enthusiastic crowd participation in the style of Rocky Horror Picture Show, this production is tremendous fun.
Aladdin, in brief, is a tale about a princess who falls for a young man from the other side of the tracks. The emperor wants his daughter to wed a rich prince. An evil sorcerer, Abanazer conspires to marry her so he may rule. Aladdin finds a magic lamp and becomes a prince. Harwood’s captivatingly distinctive version of this tale is relaxed, modern and very witty. Here, Princess Jasmine (Allyson Ava-Brown) is contemporary and rebellious, Aladdin (Karl Queensborough) is kind of street, and an eccentric Emperor (Dale Rapley) becomes enamoured with the genie (Malinda Parris).
Costumes are stunning in this work and highly imaginative; particularly those of marvellous portly drag queen – Aladdin’s mother – Widow Twankey (James Doherty), who saunters about in her sumptuously loony over-the-top dresses, making subtly naughty jokes, throwing sweets into the audience, and providing daft one liners – “I’m all woman – and just a little bit more!” Her other son, Wishy Washy (Arthur McBain), garbed in a kooky outfit resembling a lampshade, makes chicken gestures and cackles, a signal beckoning viewers to shout “You can do it!”. The costuming reminds one somewhat of Alice in Wonderland, combined with hip hop chic and a dash of The Wizard of Oz: from policemen sporting huge stomachs or enormous thighs to an utterly cool Aladdin who morphs into an impressive singer, a genie whose young Aretha Franklin style matches a jaw-droppingly superb voice, and the evil green-faced, outrageously funny villain Abanazer (Vikki Stone), whose outfits and manner evoke the musical Wicked.
The set designs are inspiring, perfectly geared to childhood fantasies for all ages, and the flying carpet is quite remarkable. With excellent direction the piece is seamless. All the actors are top notch – very talented and also clearly having a great time along with the spectators. Like one big joyful party, the Lyric Hammersmith’s panto Aladdin provides a lovely Christmas outing for children that adults will thoroughly enjoy.
Photos: Tristram Kenton and Helen Murray
Aladdin is at the Lyric Hammersmith from 19th November 2016 until 7th January 2017. Book your tickets here.