Sunday, 11 December 2016

Review 1: StageTalk Magazine ★★★★

ALADDIN at the Theatre Royal, Bath ★★★★   Graham Wyles  10th December 2016

Jon Monie and Nick Wilton are entertaining us at the Theatre Royal Bath – so it must be Christmas!  Mr Monie has become the consummate panto comic lead. His is the kind of performance that allows you to sink comfortably into your seat knowing you are in good hands.  His Wishee Washee is that artful blend of standup comic and likeable character that reaches out to the younger members of the audience whilst keeping up a flow of knowing one-liners that whizz over their heads to the mums and dads, keeping them chuckling all the way through the show.  It’s a particular kind of role, native to panto, which Mr Monie has thoroughly mastered and clearly enjoys.
Similarly Nick Wilton is firmly in touch with his inner ‘dame’; a role he in turn can rightly claim to have mastered. His Widow Twankey is, like Mr Monie, a lesson in timing.  Moreover he has understood that as the dame it is not necessary to indulge in a great blancmange of overacting (Elizabeth Dennis’s gloriously colourful and witty costumes do that for him), but to play it as a (nearly) straight, if somewhat desperate (thex thtarved) lady of a certain age.  The two stalwarts working together are a joy.
Providing the plot for all the jolly nonsense, Bill Ward, as Abanazar, gives the right sized dollop of melodrama to get the audience firmly on anybody else’s side but his with wails of boos at his every move. Loula Geater as the Slave of the Ring provides magic and glamour in equal measure with a performance of manicured precision.  As if that weren’t enough, her singing is powerful, clear and adds a touch of class to the production.
The other standout voice is that of Gemma Naylor as Princess Jasmine.  With Mark Rhodes as a bright and likeable Aladdin, they bring necessary sentimental goo to the proceedings as the unlikely lovers of Old Peking.  Tom Whalley gave us an energetic P C Pong whilst Glyn Dilley was the amiable Emperor.
The whole concoction is nicely tied up with music from a tight sounding trio under Oliver Rew, and some crisp dancing.  The little ones from the Dorothy Coleborne School were particularly charming, but with all the chorus line being as slick as you like. The set and lighting brought colour and atmosphere with the added bonus of a clever magic carpet ride.
Aladdin is everything a panto should be: a colourful family show firmly anchored in a warm-hearted festive tradition with a simple story and entertaining performances all round.  

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