Review of Aladdin - Gala Theatre, Durham
By Andrew Harrison - Arts critic
Durham Gala’s festive pantomime of Aladdin, doesn’t transport us directly to China, but goes via Egypt where we are introduced to Abanazar, Neil Armstrong as he is imprisoned for crimes with his four mummies. Using his ‘ring’ and along with his Mummies, four young members of the cast, he sets out to search for Aladdin to find his fortune. Once in Old Peking we follow the more traditional route of Aladdin, David Hosie, as he dares to sneak a peak at Princess Jasmine, Eleanor Chaganis. This results in him being searched for by the local police led by Chief Inspector Tai Chi, Kylie Ann Ford, which by mistake also includes Wishy Washy, Paul Hartley, Aladdin’s brother. Aladdin’s Mother, Widow Twanky, Paul Dunn, tries her best to protect and save Aladdin from the local police. Laura Lonsdale as The Genie flies in to grant Aladdin’s wishes, before we return to Egypt with one of the most effective magic carpet scenes I have seen in a panto. Where finally there is a happy ending for most of them.
Neil Armstrong immediately created the perfect rapport with the audience encouraging the booing and interaction. Neil certainly has some of the best jokes, many of which go above the heads of the younger members of the audience. Paul Hartly has some great comic scenes as the unfortunate Wishy Washy especially in the quicksand scene. Paul Dunn and his many great costumes as The Dame
Kylie Ann Ford has superb comic timing and stage presence. Eleanor Chaganis has a delightful voice and David Hosie brings a cheekiness to Aladdin which makes him a hit with the younger members of the audience. The four mummies have great characterisation and are a delight each time they enter the stage. Laura Lonsdale makes the most of the role as a rather untraditional Genie.
There is a fantastic team behind The Gala Panto which is slick and well-paced. I am already looking forward to Robin Hood at The Gala next year.
This magical panto runs until 5th January 2020.