Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: Aladdin, Richmond Theatre

Review: Aladdin, Richmond Theatre

Published in Time Out, 13.12.2012

A word to the wise: if your local theatre gets dealt ‘Aladdin’ next Christmas, look further afield. It so lacks a story that all the glitter and ‘Gangnam Style’ in London can’t compensate for.

Essentially it runs thus: Get lamp. Get rich. Get princess. Lose all three. Get them back. Go home. Its denouement boils down to the villain tripping up. Director Christopher Dunham, whose ‘Cinderella’ of last year had heart beneath its sparkle, can only resort to song, dance and spectacle to pad it out like a dame’s bra. It’s a classic case of shouting to ensure attention – and shout it does, the decibel levels are deafening – rather than simply being interesting.

The stars themselves are a let-down. Suzanne Shaw and Helena Dowling are bland as Genie and Jasmine, while Tim Vine – back by popular demand, though not, it appeared, his own volition – phones it in. His pun-slinging Wishee Washee proves an oddly cynical turn, constantly undercutting proceedings. Come back, Gary Wilmot, all is forgiven.

Fortunately, Graham Hoadly is a spirited dame and Gareth Leighton’s Aladdin, possibly airlifted in from a One Direction tribute band, keeps things front-footed. As with last year, though, sneering references to poorer boroughs leave a bitter aftertaste. Come on, Richmond. It’s beneath you.

Photograph: Peter Schiazza

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