Review of 'Aladdin'


This year's panto at the Lyric Hammersmith is “Aladdin” which had its premiere on the night we attended, long delayed after last year's pandemic. You would have thought the delay would have meant the show is polished and professional but sadly this is not the case. The night we attended was full of technical issues such as microphones not working (indeed, sound problems throughout resulting in the audience missing many of the lines), lines and choreography cues missed, and amateurish sets. You can forgive some of this by the fact it is a local panto but in combination it makes the show somewhat disappointing. Yes, I did see it on the first night but you would have expected them to have ironed the technical and the production issues out before it got onto the stage.

Aladdin (Qasim Mahmood) is the son of Dave Twanky (Stephan Boyce) owner of a former laundromat but now micro-brewery. Aladdin is smitten by the princess Jasmine (Ellena Vincent) and is thrown in jail for disrupting the peace. He is freed by the evil Abanazer (Irvine Iqbal) who sends Aladdin and his friend (and some-time narrator) Wishy (Gracie McGonigal) into a cave to recover a magical lamp in which a hyper-active genie (Kate Donnachie) lives. Aladdin and Wishy are freed from the cave by the Genie and promptly starts making use of their wishes but Abanazer is not done with them yet…

The panto seem disjointed and uneven with a couple of good numbers surrounding by a large number that greatly miss the mark. With panto you have to engage the (young) audience but in this case this never seemed to work right from the start with Wishy's plea to have a “Hiya Wishy!” largely ignored and eventually forgotten. Even the “pie in the face” gag is offhand and quickly dismissed early on. There is the “he's behind you” bit that most of the audience failed to pick up on meaning that there were often painful gaps in the story as the cast seemed to be waiting for something no one off-stage knew…No matter what your budget is, if you don't engage the audience all is lost. Frankly, it just seems like this is just going through the numbers (and not even all of them: Where were the candies thrown into the audience? What about the dame's outrageous costumes?…) with no soul of it's own, perhaps taking itself far to seriously though I have to say a few of the topical comments were quite amusing (Hammersmith Bridge diversion, etc), but there were far two few of them leaving the adults in the audience largely bored.

There are some incredibly energetic performances notably by the warm and fun Gracie McGonigal as Wishy and Irvine Iqbal really gives his all as the evil Abanazer but otherwise it is all a bit of a mess: The flag bearers' amusing (though very stilted) bickering is largely missed due to poor sound and Twanky never really comes across as the camp “panto dame” he should be. Kate Donnachie as the genie is distinctly underwhelming, limited to jumping about the place and reciting limitations to her powers. It is, to be fair, tough to follow on from the comically manic Genie of Robin Williams but a bit of humour would have been a good thing to add. As the Emperor, she is far more over the top and quite amusing as well.

A panto should be, number one, a fun day out for the kids and, number two, entertain the adults. In both of these cases, sadly, “Aladdin” disappoints. I would like to hope over their run in the next few months they iron out the technical issues and acquire a bit more of a heart and soul but I am not holding my breath.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2021-11-19

Lyric Hammersmith

Location: London (England)

Address: Lyric Square, King St, London W6 0QL ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Hammersmith

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8741 6850


lyric.jpg The Lyric is the center of not only live theatre but also in encouraging young people in pursuing a career in the theatre. Recently it completed a refurbishment including the Reuben Foundation Wing with state of the art educational and entertainment facilities. The Lyric makes free tickets available to local residents and workers for every show's first night. Located above the Kings Mall the main classically-decorated horseshoe auditorium is more than 100 years old and there is also a roof-top bar and cafe.