Review: Fun for adults and children alike in Priory panto

With a well-known story one wonders how it can be done differently but The Priory got the pantomime season off to a flying start with Aladdin.

It was a tribute to The Priory’s multitude of skills that it was the total cast effort rather than a single actor or feature that carried the performance along apace.

Mark Jefferies gave a performance as Widow Twanky that could have graced the professional stage. His engagement with the audience and ad-libbing were first rate, especially as there were numerous glitches because the main technical operator was struck down with illness (as was a significant character so the script was amended). However that enhanced the enjoyment, especially to the delight of adults in the audience. The down side was that sound levels were variable, and at times it was difficult to hear Princess Jasmine (Alexia Mouzakitis).

Jake Leon-Paul was an excellent complement to Widow Twanky as Wishee Washee. There was palpable chemistry as he and Mark forgot lines and incorporated it humorously as on-stage banter.

The experienced Paul Saunders was hilarious as the camp Genie with a wonderful ‘rewinding of the tape’ sketch as he replayed a scene for Aladdin. Marcus Ridley is making a tradition as the panto villain with his swarthy appearance and strong build, whilst Shannon Nason as Abbey was a good foil to Princess Jasmine.

The dancers from Viva Theatre Arts once again performed superbly the pieces choreographed by Claudia Temple. They have been a solid basis for several pantomimes with their skill, coordination and smiling throughout.

The involvement from the audience was wonderful, several notches higher than usual, with the adults really engaged, more than this reviewer can recall for some time. Even though some of the jokes were over the heads of younger children, this production is an ideal opportunity to introduce young children to theatre.

Aladdin runs until December 31. Visit priorytheatre.co.uk or call 0333 666 3366 to book.