Aladdin – Civic Theatre, Darlington
Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East
Writer: Jon Conway
Director: David Barrow
Darlington Civic has a renown reputation for festive family fun and this years offering of Aladdin shows that the their reputation remains intact.
Aladdin is classic pantomime, with merriment, mayhem and mirth. Laugh out loud funny with jokes for both young and old alike. Starring The Chuckle Brothers, alias real-life South Yorkshire brothers Barry and Paul Elliott, who are almost in their 50th year of cheery, cheeky, cheesy panto antics and their good-natured double act slots as easily as ever into the pantomime world. They take part in the comedy scenes and know how to make the entire audience laugh out loud. A ridiculous scene where the two are at cross purposes with Barry’s intention to audition for the X-Factor getting confused with Paul’s attempts to design a dress is such a moment that makes the daft duo’s physical comedy so enduringly popular.
Gary Amers Aladdin has an interesting take on the rôle and once he has grown into the part he is sure to be fabulous. Better use, however, should be made of Danny Potts and his rôle of Emperor as he has great scene presence and is very under used.
Phil Corbitt is a wonderfully evil Abanazer starting the show with an explosion and a boo and a hiss. Darlington’s own Beth Stobbart is excellent as Princess Jasmine. Beautiful to look at, she can dance, act and sings sublime. Although this is her first professional show, such a great talent will help her go very far.
Star of the show is Dame Widow Twankey herself (Philip Meeks.) He romps through the evening in a range of crazy costumes and fabulous shoes, making at least a dozen changes, some of them lightening quick. His boundless energy and perfect comedic timing had everyone joining in and shouting for more and he managed to steal every scene in which he appeared
The secret that makes this panto so very enjoyable is the cast members are not just focusing on entertaining the audience but genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves. There are many unscripted moments and the Chuckles can’t seem to get through a single scene without corpsing. But the best moment must have been during a reading of Goldilocks with some very brave grown up audience members. Baby Bear enjoyed himself a bit too much and ended up falling over on the stage to great hilarity on the stage and in the audience
All the panto staples are there, cries of “it’s behind you” and shouts of “Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is”; custard pies a plenty give us the full spectrum of a night’s entertainment. There’s comedy, dancing, some belting musical numbers and oh the costumes… everything that is needed for a fabulous family night out.