Wed 7th – Sat 10th December 2011


Ruby Hoare

at 09:23 on 8th Dec 2011



I was unsure of what to expect from Bristol University Pantosoc’s production of Aladdin; with pantomimes the potential for cringe-inducing theatrical disaster is huge. However, although some aspects are lacking, Aladdin is, on the whole, an entertaining experience with some fantastic acting and an extremely funny script.

The performance’s somewhat wobbly start set me on edge, making me think my misgivings would be confirmed. Some of the cast seemed uncomfortable in their roles at first, as they were awkward and unconvincing, and some good jokes were missed due to poor delivery.

The actors redeemed themselves once they got going however, as they were borne along by the excellent script. By the end of the first Act I was won over, as were the rest of the audience who were more often than not laughing heartily. The production included all the traditional pantomime gags - “he’s behind you!”; booing and hissing; a pie in the face - which were, refreshingly, not at all tedious. Rob Allcott successfully combines topical adult comedy with immature and sometimes frankly quite bizarre humour. We were treated to everything from high-brow quips such as ‘less use than a coalition government’, to the vulgar classic: ‘knee-deep in clunge’. Eeyore, the depressive and much beloved donkey, is beheaded and branded a ‘miserable little s***’, much to our amusement. We even see an enactment of Godzilla eating Mickey Mouse (I told you it was bizarre).

The acting, although certainly involving weaker cast members, was generally of a very high standard. Sam Briggs stole the show with his masterful portrayal of the flamboyant evil sorcerer Abanazer. Pete Bagot’s polished and hilairious rendition of the Thespian Sir Roderick was more than reminiscent of Uncle Monty in Withnail & I. There was something of Basil Fawlty in Tom Brown’s perfectly exaggerated portrayal of the deranged Sultan. Both the genies, played by Becca Hare and Drummond Oglivie, gave excellent performances; Oglivie’s depiction of the genie as an uptight butler-figure was particularly exquisite. Mark Courtier drew a lot of laughs with his well meaning but blundering Wishee Washee. James Davies was also well received, although he did seem to resent dressing in drag - it’s a tough gig, playing the Dame.

The stage management, production and music (including singing) were all great, with some especially impressive special effects including pyrotechnics and some very loud bangs (which made me jump about a mile). There were some very effective directorial decisions, which made inventive and full use of the stage and occasionally beyond.

Those of us who are looking for something like the Disney version of Aladdin will most likely be disappointed. Apart from a few jokes at Disney’s expense - a rendition of a song from Hercules and a cameo from the magic carpet - the two productions are not at all similar. This is most definitely a 'traditional student pantomime' as promised.

All in all I was very taken with Aladdin. The Pantosoc have risen to the considerable challenge they set themselves and have managed to leave a sceptic pleasantly surprised. In the words of Sir Roderick: ‘I have suckled at the poisoned teat of pantomime’ - and I rather enjoyed it.



Amelia Newson; 10th Dec 2011; 00:13:48

Definitely Four Stars! I really enjoyed it!

Imogen Sarre; 12th Dec 2011; 12:10:03

Amelia, you can leave your own star rating! The audience's opinion is very important too, so please do give your feedback (you can agree/disagree with the review as well).

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