Review: Aladdin, Company of Four, Riverside Theatre, Woodbridge, to February 21

The Company of Four stage traditional pantomime Aladdin

The Company of Four stage traditional pantomime Aladdin - Credit: Archant

An impoverished ne’er-do-well in a Chinese town is recruited by a mean and evil sorcerer who passes himself off as his uncle, apparently making arrangements to set up the boy as a wealthy merchant.

Company of Four present Aladdin

Company of Four present Aladdin - Credit: Archant

Abanazar’s real motive is to persuade young Aladdin, the star of the show, to retrieve a magical lamp from a booby-trap cave that will give the evil sorcerer all the wealth and power he desires. Can young Aladdin escape the cave and what will happen when he finds out the lamp’s powers?

With the help of the genie of the lamp, and Company of Four’s cast and crew, Aladdin becomes rich and powerful and hopes to marry the beautiful Princess Jasmine, the Emperor’s daughter.

Producer Paul Leech brings us one of the last panto’s this season but what a hit. Full of comedy, magic and some stunning sets and costumes, it’s one of the funniest pantos to hit Suffolk’s theatre land this winter.

Although slightly on the lengthy side - some of the kids questioned why we had to watch Aladdin sleep on a blacked out stage - credit is due to Lena Hogarth and team’s junior dancers, who were absolutely phenomenal.

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Ranging from four years up, they were composed, in time and their efforts were clear. It was also a pleasure to see some young male dancers in the cast too.

Julian Illman’s evil Abanazar was so moreishly good you would be surprised to learn he has only played a baddy once before. Young audience members - and some of us older ones too - boo-ed and hissed his evil ways with delight.

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The three police officers, notably Simon Hoyle in his role as I Pong who was accompanied by U Pong and E Pong – you get where this is going - didn’t pong at all. They were a joy to watch.

It was Leech’s Widow Titiana Twankey, Alladin’s mother with some questionable fashion sense, who stole the show and kept the whole thing together. An absolute gem of a comedian and extremely clever at keeping up audience participation throughout.

Titiana - or, our friend Titi - is worth the ticket alone. Yet as a panto on the whole Company of Four once again brings laughter, colour and joy during this dreary February half-term.

Mira Shareif

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