Aladdin One Rub Too Many

James Chalmers
Guildford Fringe Theatre Company
The Back Room of The Star Inn, Guildford

Robert Rees in Aladdin One Rub Too Many Credit: Ingrid Weel
Michael Pellman in Aladdin One Rub Too Many Credit: Ingrid Weel
Alice Mills in Aladdin One Rub Too Many Credit: Ingrid Weel

Returning to The Star for a triumphant 10th year, Guildford Fringe Theatre Company presents a whistle-stop tour of Aladdin, but not quite as you know it.

The multi-talented cast of five navigate their way through song, dance and fruity gestures not suitable to commit to print. To give too much away would spoil many of the jokes but it's safe to say that the musical numbers that energetically propel the plot forward are very much given the adult panto treatment—how "Bat out of Hell", "I'm Every Woman" and "Tragedy" are transformed is something to behold. Vocally, this is perhaps one of their strongest casts and even with smutty lyrics Rachel Warrick-Clarke and Alice Mill's rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" is somehow still a touching moment of pathos in an otherwise frenetic show.

Returning to the Guildford Fringe stage, Clarke is an absolute scene-stealer as the mouthy genie milking the script, dance moves and props for every ounce of comedy whilst building fantastic rapport with the audience. This is never more evident than during the classic(ish) "12 Days of Christmas" house song which is thrown into delightful chaos by Robert Rees's cheeky Widow Wanky. The role of the Dame is sometimes tough in adult pantoland, but Rees strikes a great balance between titillation and downright smut—a traditional dame gone wild!

As the title character (and with one bulging bicep), Michael Pellman is a fresh-faced and eager Aladdin swept off his feet by the confident and extremely suggestive Jasmine played with charm by Alice Mills. A panto is not a panto without a baddie and Dora Gee gives an Abanazar with pomp, ego and dramatic flair.

Condensing the plot into an hour is no mean feat and the script delivers on laughs even if it's slightly less coherent that previous productions. This is quickly forgotten, however, with the cast launching themselves at the material aided by simple but striking costumes and effective lighting. The audience interaction is brief but well handled although I think a 'he's behind you' was missing from the list of usual suspects.

The beauty of panto, adult or otherwise, is a sharing an experience, and part of the entertainment is enjoying how those around you react. The audience were slow to warm up but once the giggles started they didn't stop.

Aladdin One Rub Too Many is fast-paced, filthy, frivolous, festive fun—a treat definitely not for all the family.

Reviewer: Amy Yorston