Get Aladdin is a brilliant adult panto that's a non-stop romp of laugher, double entendres and magical adventure.
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Young and handsome gay street thief Aladdin, his pet monkey Wishy Washy (the Katie Price of the animal kingdom) and his mother ‘I’m single but experienced’ Widow Twanky flee their Chinese laundry in Clapham and set up home in the ancient city of Hao Hung (you have to say it out loud to get the joke), after they stumble across a magic lamp that contains a Saucy Northern Genie. The evil Abanazer wants the lamp for himself as he’s already got a magic ring that controls a leather clad Gimp, so he wants to add to his Genie collection and get those fabled three wishes so he can be granted ultimate power over the city of Hao Hung. Also after the lamp is a hapless Scotland Yard detective who takes on many cunning (and brilliantly stereotyped) disguises in order to prove that Aladdin stole the lamp and is a bad’un.
As the audience enters the theatre, everyone gets a glass of mulled wine, a glo-stick styled necklace and a bottle of bubble liquid to ensure some highly enjoyable audience participation and there’s excitement and anticipation in the room within minutes. At the start it’s slightly strange to realise you’re laughing at some of the more un-PC jokes and punch lines, but quickly it’s clear that the (mainly gay) audience is very much included in the jokes and there’s an understanding and intelligence within this production that makes it OK.
Part of the joy of this production is that the audience is told that the producers don’t have money for fancy effects and so every time there’s a scene in Widow Twanky’s laundry, we have to provide the ambience by blowing from our little bottle of bubbles. And we have to boo each time Abanazer comes on stage, shout Ding Dong each time someone comes in the laundrette door (because the door bell is broken) and because Monkey’s Brains are a delicacy, each time Abanazer creeps up behind Wishy Washy, the audience have to warn her by shouting out her name. Brilliantly – everyone does and this keeps going throughout the show. At some points, we’re all booing Abanazer, blowing bubbles, shouting ‘Ding Dong’ and ‘Wishy Washy’ at the same time while the cast react and run around. It’s massively good fun!
Aladdin has left his sexy boyfriend Tyler back in Clapham and is heart-broken – until he meets the Emperor’s Geek Chic Hot Gay Son who only has his pet plant Robert for company. But when they first meet, Aladdin is dressed as one of the Chinese Women’s Olympic Team, and it leads the Prince to question his sexuality – although, when Aladdin reveals his true identity they begin to fall in love. Then The Emperor realises that he’s caught the eye of Aladdin’s mother Widow Twanky, who just wants to become Mrs. Emperor so that she can live the high life at the Palace.
There are so many adventures in caves, palaces, restaurants and city streets that it’s amazing that the cast keep up with the storylines, but they do and they do it with apparent ease. The audience get to sing along and the actors are brilliant at reacting to comments from the cheap seats. Of course, everything works out well in the end and everyone is happy.
The cast are all exceptional and work so hard throughout the evening (it’s a long show and how they remember everything is quite amazing). There’s obviously been a lot of hard work and effort on the part of the cast and the creative team and that has paid off in bucket loads. The scene on the magic carpet works wonderfully well thanks to black lighting (and black leggings) and even when there are a few technical glitches, the cast have the audience in the palm of their hands so it becomes just another part of the show.
Greg Airey plays Aladdin as a taller and sexier version of BBC3’s Lee Nelson, who might be gay but he’s a proper geezer innit (and there’s a great scene where his clothes all shrink and he has to take them off). Josh Rochford is pure comedy genius as Widow Twanky – every inch the perfect Panto Dame and a joy to watch. And Matt Baldwin is delightful as the evil Abanazar, with one of the best villain’s laughs for a long time.
All in all, Get Aladdin is a hugely enjoyable evening and well worth seeing over the Christmas period.
The Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road, SW9 9PH (closest tube Clapham North)
Dates: Until Sunday 13 January (no performances on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day)
Ticket Price: £18
For tickets or more information either call the Box Office on 020 7737 7276 or visit www.abovethestag.com or www.landortheatre.co.uk
Words: Matthew Christian