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Aladdin – Birmingham Hippodrome

Choreographer: David Bintley

Composer: Carl Davis

Reviewer: John Kennedy

Ennui-induced moments of desperate TV multi-channel surfing can hardly avoid a repeat somewhere of the groundbreaking 1981 World At War documentary series, or that career-defining scene in Pride & Prejudice where Colin Firth’s Darcy plunges with svelte-pelt otter eroticism in to that balm-bathing ornamental pond. Carl Davis’ compositions, indeed, are ever to the fore.

Tonight, David Bintley promises a real, ‘dance show, that does everything it says on the tin.’ The ‘dance’ being Birmingham Royal Ballet on supercharged, exotic hormonal heat and the ‘tin’ a conjuring, Djinn-soaked genie-filled lamp. As for the Djinn’s claims of his carpet being able to fly, that may be more down to his over-familiarity with Shake n’Vac side-effects. He’s not the only one at it either. Others play fast and loose with the juju juice.

Tonight is an aromatic, ocular spectacular of shameless, oriental romanticism. Choose from the dazzling fantasia of a Byzantine, spiced-soaked market-place, the Sultan of Bling’s opulent Moorish palace or the giddy, liquid marble and succulent porcelain harem steam baths beneath a dome of cascading Pantheon haloed sunlight. Set designer, Dick Bird’s imagination is let riotously loose while Sue Blane’s aesthetically arresting costumes induce eye-popping palpitations.

Centre-piece spectacular is Aladdin’s entombment in the bone-cave by Boys’ Own dastardly Fu Man Chu stereotype, Mahgrib. There follows an intoxicating cornucopia of variation, aerial aerobatics, pas de deux and corps-exotiqué dancing delights. A convenient and impressively purple plot-resolving magic lamp Djinn comes in handy as well.

Giddily succulent, the moon-lit magic-carpet ride weaving above the silhouette minarets is an ohh-ahh delight. It mercifully erases memories of Aladdin’s previous burka shrouded hit-squad having all the arresting gravitas of the faux-bearded mob about to stone to death the halibut-heretic in The Life Of Brian. But love conquers all under a golden-star spangled night. Aladdin, market wide-boy chancer, wins the heart of unattainable princess (albeit with a shed-load dowry of diamonds and pearls) as they dance together chic-to-cheek. Eschewing any Marxist-Leninist, post-Sino-Colonial critiques, or Rees-Mogg/Boris foreign policy rapprochement, this really is some enchanted evening of ludicrous, escapist artistry.

Runs until 7 October 2017 | Image: Bill Cooper

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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