BWW Reviews: GET ALADDIN, Landor, December 12 2012
Above The Stag have been producing adult pantos for four years, but this is their first offering at The Landor (their own home having been demolished because London needs more new buildings - oh yes it does!). Get Aladdin (until 13 January) has all the familiar characters, but Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper have given it a sweary script and a gay focus to "lift" it to adult status. Panto, being panto, takes such modifications in its stride and Britain's bullet-proof theatre marches relentlessly on.
Set in the little known Chinese province of Hao Hung (see what I mean?), evil wizard-industrialist Abanazer (Matthew Baldwin), a re-located Cockney wideboy, is in pursuit of a magic lamp stolen from the British Museum by exiled Clapham cruiser Aladdin (Greg Airey) who has the hots for Prince Char Ming (George Bull), just as his mother Widow Twankey (Josh Rochford) has for The Emperor (Philip Lawrence). There's a Jordanesque monkey, a poorly disguised policewoman, a belly-dancing Genie and a Gimp of the Ring in there too (and an excellent flying carpet).
It's all a lot of fun, of course, with much hissing and booing for Abanazer and some good ad-libbing from Josh Rochford as The Dame, meaning that it does - as adult pantos must - give all the grown-ups a chance to relive their Chrimbo hols days as kids in the stalls. There's a few whizzes and bangs - and a little of that stuff goes a long way in as intimate a space as The Landor. If the singing is a bit ropey and the music piped in and sounding more medium wave than digital, well, it's panto, not a pitch for a Tony, and there's a chance to cheer and boo coming up soon anyway.
What is less forgiveable than the musical interludes is Get Aladdin's running time - pushing two and a half hours including the interval. Though there are jokes, puns and running gags from start to finish, they may not be enough to sustain a thinnish plot for quite that long - especially sitting on chairs packed tight around the stage area. Maybe - not for the first time, nor the last - less might have made for more, before the gay wedding (with a barb or two for the recent debate in Parliament) and the happy-ever-afters.