Doing things by halves has never been the Mercury Theatre’s way with pantomimes, and this year’s version of Aladdin, written and directed by Janice Dunn, is no exception. After all, why have just two genii when three is more exciting? There’s an interesting menagerie of livestock as well, including a rather fetching camel, another of those ubiquitous meercats, a raven and an extremely imposing cobra. Richard Foxton’s designs are colourful and repay attatention for their detailing.

We’re in Shalimar, by the way, which I think must be a near-neighbour of Shangri-la. Abu, a story-teller, sets the scene for us with rhyming couplets; he’s played by Ignatius Anthony, who is also one of the afore-mentioned genii. David Tarkenter contributes a purple-clad villain as Abanazer. He has rather more explanatory dialogue than the villain of this piece is usually afforded, and I was fascinated by the way in which the audience at a captioned performance followed the words even more closely than the visual elements.

Dale Superville (a Mercury favourite) makes a likeable Wishee Washee with Jai Vethamony as Aladdin, a foundling in this version but one with a strong individual personality. Elizabeth Brown plays Princess Jasmine, as definite a young lady as her father the Emperor (Roger Delves-Broughton) is an absent-minded ditherer. Tim Treslove’s Widow Twankey is a no-nonsense Dame with some neat ad-libs and a whole aviary of birds’ nest wigs. Clare Humphrey and Daniel Tawse are the other two genii Graeme du Fresne is the musical director.