Aladdin (Bishop's Stortford)
It's sometimes surprising to see what can be done with a small stage but a great deal of ingenuity. This year's ''Aladdin'' at the Rhodes Centre in Bishop's Stortford has once more pulled the rabbit out of the hat – or should that be the lamp out of the cave?
Phil Dale is the co-writer of this version of Aladdin at the Rhodes Centre in Bishop's Stortford and has created another full-throated villainous role for himself as Abanazar.
Tradition is served in Jeanne Stacey's production by casting Grace Wheeler in the title role. Aladdin may have fallen for Lucy Syed's Princess Jasmine, but somehow mother Widow Twanky (Pete Duffy) and brother Wishy Washy (co-writer Connor O'Sullivan) keep on messing things up for him.
O'Sullivan immediately establishes a rapport with the audience. There are a couple of lyrical numbers for Wheeler and Syed and some fast-paced choreography by Katie Barker-Dale. Malvern Hostick makes the stage seem much larger than it could possibly stretch, assisted by characters also using the audience space.
The special effects (magic carpet, black-theatre sequence and so on) also work very well. Jules Dale's costumes are attractive as well as colourful, with a red and blue palette for the finale. Duncan Rutherford and Phil Childs provide the music for a pantomime which offers something for all ages in its audience.
Something of a moral point is made by Aladdin reneging on his promise to set the Genii (Faye Linden and Will Lynch) free and by Abanazar's ultimate fate (no, I'm not telling you just which comeuppance befalls him) but it's subtly implied.
Aladdin is at the Rhodes Centre, Bishop's Stortford until 4 January.