Once again the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
has managed to create a good-old fashioned, family treat of a panto.
This year sees it take on the mystical Aladdin
with plenty of sparkles, heart and custard pies.
In the title role Emma Thornett is
thigh-slappingly up-beat with elastic facial expressions and a clear
voice. Although his/her mother Widow Twankey, played by Royce
Mills, lacks the bite and barb of a modern pantomime Dame, she is
refreshingly warm, bumblely and very Surrey, as if a local vicar’s
wife had decided to set up a laundry in China. Joe Allen and Jamie
Brook provide some fantastic slapstick comedy as Wishee Washee &
PC Pongo, while local radio presenter Peter Gordon proves he’s
game for a laugh, while still keeping the show in the Guildford
As a double act Susie Blake and Kit
Hesketh Harvey steal so many scenes all that is missing is a bag
with swag written on it. Playing the genie as a cross between Mrs
Potts and Barbara Windsor, Blake is cheeky with a twinkle in her
eye, while Hesketh Harvey is devilishly wicked as the scheming
Jamie Attle’s stunning costumes
glitter and gleam under Josh Harris’s Quality Street coloured
lighting to create a visual feast. The set, provided by Imagine
Theatre and designed by Rob Wells, packs a comic book punch and
scene such as the cave and the magic carpet are delightfully full of
This is a very local pantomime and,
unlike some larger shows, it doesn’t feel as if the local gags have
been shoe-horned in, rather that this is a big show with an intimate
audience. Gerry Tebbutt’s direction keeps the physical comedy
pacey and the kids screaming with laughter and excitement at One
Direction sing-alongs and “He’s behind you” shouting matches.
Some adults may miss the double-entendres and sauciness that
audiences have come to expect, but what it lacks in campness this
show makes up for in heart.
Full of good, clean fun,
Aladdin will have you singing, laughing and shouting out
until you feel like a school kid again.