Writer: Andrew Pollard
Director: Ryan McBryde
Reviewer: David Jobson
What makes a good pantomime – is it celebrities, big sets or special effects? Or does it need plenty of laughs, fun and high jinx. If Salisbury Playhouse’s contribution is anything to go by it is certainly the latter, together with a creative team that knows their pantomimes and love their craft.
With writer Andrew Pollard it is no surprise that Salisbury Playhouse delivers some of the best pantomimes in the south. The story is spruced up, the characters have more personality and the inventive, bad, tongue-twisting and topical jokes and routines are endless. While they don’t break new ground, Pollard’s ingenuity keeps the show fresh and action-packed.
Playing Aladdin is the strapping Tyler Fayose. Here he doesn’t just want fame and fortune; he wants to become a rockstar and Fayose certainly has an endearingly winning personality to charm the audience. He and Rebecca Hazel as Jasmine make a great pair of lovers as they sing their hearts out.
Playing the Dame for the first time is Richard Ede, and there can be no doubt why he was chosen for the role of Widow Twankey. Not only is his comic timing spot on but this reviewer couldn’t help but notice how much work he was putting into his expressive face. The audience loved every minute with him, while he and Fred Broom as the Emperor make the perfect comic duo.
The genies have been given a makeover as well. Nerine Skinner plays the Genie of the Ring as a geek, running off an encyclopaedia’s worth of knowledge in one breath. A foil for Abanazar, she always has a smartass retort up her sleeve, even if her jokes are not up to scratch. Melissa Brown-Taylor meanwhile brings the house down with her soaring vocals as the diva Genie of the Lamp.
Lynden Edwards savours his villainy as Abanazar bringing much energy to the role. Still, trouble is not far away when Aladdin’s pet panda, Ping Pong, is on the loose.
China is presented with such vibrancy thanks to Juliet Shillingford’s colourful sets and costumes. The set pieces are extensive. Expect total chaos with Widow Twankey’s new washing machine and watch out for a flying carpet.
The cast enthusiastically performs a wide variety of musical and pop songs from You Can’t Stop the Beat and Let it Shine, with a Megamix in the second act. Together with Grant Murphy’s animated choreography, there is never a dull moment.
This is a perfect pantomime, combining the best of the traditional with extra flavour on top. If you’d like a Christmas show that is not too flashy but will entertain the children and more, then this is the show for you.
Runs until 7 January 2017 | Image: Robert Workman