Aladdin, Towngate Theatre, Basildon, 2017/18

The Stage Review – By Paul Vale

The Slave of the Ring is a single mum on a zero hours contract so when Abanazar beckons, she sends the kids to do his bidding. It’s not just a contemporary twist on an old story, it’s a great way of placing young performers front-and-centre, a characteristic of Simon Fielding’s annual pantomime at Basildon.

Fielding’s Aladdin is a riotous mix of comedy, choreography and special effects supported by a script bursting with local colour from Brad Fitt.

Fitt’s Aladdin is a genuine adventure with a love story at its heart. Sam Ebenezer as Aladdin and Marianna Neofitou as Jasmine share this adventure equally and their whirlwind romance is enhanced by some impressive vocals. Aisling Duffy’s bold choreography permeates the narrative with breathtaking routines and a resourceful design raises the stakes with every scene change and magic carpet ride.

Daniel Stockton’s Twankey may be less integral to this production but together with Fielding as Wishee Washee they provide much of the traditional slapstick. The comedy crown however belongs to the incomparable Sophie Ladds as Abanazar. Ladds is an exceptional pantomime villain, blending astute comic timing with dominatrix overtones and providing balance to what can, in less experienced hands, become a male dominated entertainment.

Verdict – Outstanding family pantomime enriched by thrilling choreography and a genuine sense of adventure