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Theatre Review: Aladdin--Perth Theatre ***

Joy Watters reviews a production that has all the ingredients for a good production 'but the pudding never really rises'.

Perth Theatre is open again, after three years’ closure for redevelopment and refurbishment, in time for the panto season. The grand old lady of Scotland’s theatres, now well over a century old, boasts a resplendent auditorium, all warm terracotta walls, gorgeous creamy balconies decorated with gold leaf and the gods opened up.

It is a beautiful setting for the return of the well-beloved panto, which this year is written by Joel Harwood, redrafted for Perth by Frances Poet with additional material by Barrie Hunter, Dame at the fair city’s panto for several years; many hands which do not make particularly light work of the tale of Aladdin.

All the ingredients are there for some jolly seasonal fare but the pudding never really rises. There are various tweaks and twists to the production which is the first by new artistic director Lu Kemp. The trouble is it’s not clear why they are there. While no one expects a panto to be an exercise in logic, there needs to be some cogency to the capers.

Aladdin (Gavin Jon Wright), reminiscent of a young Woody Allen thanks to his large spectacles, and his big lanky brother Wishy Washy (Tyler Collins) band together to try and defeat the evil Abanazer and win the princess over. The latter baddie is played by Christina Strachan, who sports a fat suit with a six-pack, has a bald head with a green Max Wall wig and is a rapper. The reason for all this is far from clear.

Nicole Sawyerr is a fine feisty Princess Jasmine who takes no nonsense from the men in her life while Barrie Hunter’s Widow Twankey is a little restrained this year.

A fine youth cast brings bounce and fun to proceedings.

Aladdin runs at Perth Theatre until January 6.
Tags: theatre

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