Hall for Cornwall
Review by Lee Trewhela
THERE are no stars, it's old-fashioned, the humour will make you groan and on opening night it lasted a bottom-numbing three hours.
But Aladdin is well worth seeing because it slyly undermines the basis of panto with a hero and heroine who are far more sassy than usual, it features the best villain in HfC history and is good family fun – a couple of grannies behind me were just as involved as my primary school-age children.
There was the thrill of the new too as, although a Hiss & Boo production as is usual at the Hall, the entire cast was fresh (apart from a few familiar faces among the talented local kids).
The star of the show was undoubtedly Granville Saxton as evil Abanazar. Relishing every growl, there was a twinkle in his eye and a sly grin throughout. The Harry Potter Death Eater riffed off the audience wonderfully. I would have quite happily seen him brick up Aladdin in the Cave of Wonder and behead his ugly mum, such was his persuasiveness.
The big man with big talent, Cornish actor Dean Nolan was brilliant as the Genie, busting a disco move at every opportunity. He put paid to the lie that people of a larger frame are unfit – watching him do the splits is worth the price of admission alone.
David Alcock was a hugely likeable Widow Twankey, dishing out the double entendres, while Drew Mason brought some boy band charm to the lead role, getting all the tweeny girls in the audience on side with renditions of One Direction and Bruno Mars songs.
Suzanne Ahmet played Princess Saffron with attitude and Nathan Guy was the slapstick guy Wishee Washee – the children loved him, the dads probably wanted to punch him. A particular joy was rubber-limbed Daniel Cane as PC New-Kee (yes, this is the level of humour you can expect). A natural comic, he deserves to go far.
There's no point in outlining the story. I'm not sure it actually had one (though it was written with a wry wink by Andrew Emerson, of Rastamouse fame, who dropped in some adult-friendly, contemporary references such as Plebgate). Just expect the usual set pieces – song, dance and silliness with colourful sets and costumes. The flying carpet is a particular highlight though the ghost chase was a bit ragged on opening night.
Being the first performance, it was almost a suck it and see scenario and I'm assured the three-hour running time will be cut to a more manageable two hours and 20 minutes. The joy of the ever-evolving beast that is panto is the show I saw on December 14 will undoubtedly be very different to the one on closing night, January 6.
The need for such fun, forget your woes, family-bonding entertainment became all too clear when I got home and turned on the news ....
For tickets and more information see www.hallforcornwall.co.uk