'Aladdin: A Wish Come True' or 'No sweets! But still too saccharine.'

'Aladdin: A Wish Come True'
The Theatre at The O2, Tuesday 11th December 2012
Written for Time Out

Her hair really is this big
 'Aladdin: A Wish Come True' is panto on an epic scale. The pop-up tent venue, pitched inside The O2, seats 1,900 and is the biggest panto space in London. The huge cast includes a gaggle of kids and two cheeky elephants, while the performance motors on for over three hours. When the curtain finally drops, both the audience and show feel knackered.

The problem with creating such a large space is it has to be filled. With a less than a half capacity crowd, Lily Savage - reprising her 2010 turn as Widow Twankey - has scant energy to feed off. The audience interaction segments generate limp echoes rather than boisterous cheers. Darren Bennett fares better as the dastardly Abanazer, intent on swiping Aladdin's magic lamp. Bennett glistens with sleazy malice and out camps even Savage.

But there's too much schmaltz here and not enough cynicism, particularly for a London crowd. The love songs, borrowed from popular musicals and movies, are exceptionally saccharine. Roger S Moss's book is equally treacly, despite some token contemporary references. In the title role, Jon Lee, not the sparkiest of performers, is lumbered with the cheesiest lines: 'The only jewel I see here is you!'

Alan Miller Bunford's vibrant set brightens things up a little but not even a flying magic carpet can get this panto soaring. A perfectly harmless show - but not nearly savage enough.


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