Nov 29 2018 | By More

★★☆☆☆   Mixed bag of fun

Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre: Wed 28 Nov – Sat 1 Dec 2018
Review by Sarah Moyes

Pantomime season is here as the St Serf’s Players become the first company in Edinburgh to pull the panto curtain up – revealing a lively but up-and-down production of the classic tale, Aladdin.

The story very much follows the traditional pantomime plot as we’re transported to Peking in China to meet Aladdin and his mother, Widow Twankey. While working in his mother’s laundrette, Aladdin is persuaded by Abanazar to fetch a magic lamp from a deep, dark cave in a bid to make himself rich, so he can marry the Emperor’s daughter, Princess Badroulbador.

The Trinity Theatre Company chorus. Pic: Walter Hampson

The St Serf’s Players are joined by the Trinity Theatre Company for this year’s performance, with the young children involved putting in a very lively performance providing the main song and dance numbers in the show.

Rona Arnott gives one of the stand-out performances as Widow Twankey, even though the role of the dame is usually played by a man. She is really entertaining to watch and has the audience laughing along with everything she says. And in true dame fashion, her costumes, designed by Alison McCallum, are bright, colourful and completely over the top.

Joy Blair gives a solid performance as Aladdin, even though at the start of the show, watching an adult come across like a moody teenager can be a bit odd. However, she plays her big part well and works at carrying the story forward.

Just like Widow Twankey, Emperor Chow Mein, Ruler of all China is played by a female instead of a male. And while Moira Macdonald is good in this role, it would have been nice to have seen more males taking on bigger roles.

enjoyable performances

Elsewhere, the supporting cast provide enjoyable performances with James Peat shuffling around the stage as The Grand Vizier and Glenn Liddall as the Genie of the Lamp, a part that could have been made more prominent in this version of the story.

James Peat, Moira Macdonald, Rona Arnott and Fredericka Morrison. Pic: Walter Hampson

The show is packed full of audience participation with Alison Carcas as Abanazar and Fredericka Morrison as Wishee Washee prompting lots of booing and screams of “it’s behind you.”

However, the highlight (at least for younger members of the audience) comes in the form of Baby Shark. The excessively catchy children’s song, which went viral this year, has most of the audience on their feet with excited kids and their parents all doing the baby shark dance moves along with Wishee Washee and So-Shy, played by Joy Jin.

The second half begins with an energetic performance of Taylor Swift’s hit Shake It Off by the Trinity Theatre Company cast. While the children give a very spirited performance, parts of it are overshadowed by the very loud sound levels on the microphone.

keep up with the times

By contrast, later in the show it was difficult to make out what Aladdin and the Princess were singing during their duet She’s The One as their quieter vocals became lost under the backing track. It also felt like a bit of an outdated song choice, given that there are a lot of more modern love songs out there.

Joy Blair, Joy Jin and Fiona Henderson (Princess) with members of the chorus. Pic: Walter Hampson

Elsewhere there are lots of references to keep up with the times, however, including a nod to Simon Cowell and Jeremy Corbyn (and of course, Baby Shark) but the script could still be tightened up. Some scenes feel more like filler than important plot development.

It would also have been interesting to see the relationship between Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee explored in more depth, as the usual comical relationship is brushed over in Norman Robins’ adaption of Aladdin.

Overall, St Serf’s Players production of Aladdin for their seventieth anniversary year has some fun and enjoyable moments. But it has got some improvements to make if it wants to reach its full potential.

Running time – 2 hours 35 minutes (including interval)
Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre, 1a Clark Road, EH5 3BD
Wednesday 28 November – Saturday 1st December
Evenings Wed – Fri: 7.30pm; Sat 1 two perfs: 2pm & 6.30pm.

Tickets and details:    Book here.

Alison Carcas. Pic: Walter Hampson


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.