Wishes Come True with Aladdin at The Kenton Theatre this Christmas

Be prepared for a fast-paced, fun-filled, Egyptian adventure for this year’s pantomime, Aladdin, at The Kenton Theatre. As Immersion Theatre say themselves, it is a ‘genie-us’ production and a real treat for young and old.

If it is traditional pantomime you are after, then look no further because Immersion Theatre’s take on Aladdin offers it all. Oh yes it does! There are over the top costumes, glittering sets, competitions, sweets, good (and bad) jokes and all the traditions we expect of theatre at this time of the year.

Widow Twankey is hilarious in an array of extravagant costumes, ranging from a dress fringed with balloons, an aeroplane and a cake, some often crude but cracking jokes. In typical fashion, Widow Twankey is on the lookout for a man and isn’t shy about it. She says at one point, “if you see any strange men, send them my way.” Widow Twankey is also the butt of many jokes as her onstage son, Wishy, describes her just like a McDonald’s “cheap and full of fat”.

Indeed, the script doesn’t hold back on risky jokes and in the opening minutes, Abanazar laughs that he has spent his life trying to be as repulsive and corrupt as possible, just like Boris Johnson. It definitely got a good laugh (and a few boos from the audience). The cast didn’t let Henley get away without ridicule either, joking that Widow Twankey’s laundry smells like the toilets in The Bull and finally, and to great applaud, as they decide how to punish Abanazar for his evil ways, it is suggested that he is made to work for Henley Council. Abanazar wails, “but they never get anything done.”

For the younger members of the audience, it really is spectacular. Aside from the twinkling sets, and magnificent costumes, there are plenty of jokes and madcap action to appeal to children, including (and to great excitement) bags of Haribo scattered into the audience, a slow-motion sword fight, Aladdin on a flying carpet, and be warned, water guns! Plus, the soundtrack is both recognizable to young and old with songs from The Greatest Showman, A Star is Born and Trollz, as well as classics by Elvis, Abba and Michael Jackson. The audience were dancing in their seats.

At the start, Wishy claims he has no friends and is lonely (ahhhhhhh) and so he implores the audience to help him, asking them to say, “what’s up Wishy” every time he says, “what’s up gang” and the audience loved it. Be prepared for some audience participation as one poor chap from the front row discovered. He was forced to stand up and shout to everyone, “what’s up Wishy!” He did it in great panto spirit and didn’t even mind the ensuing flirtations he received from Widow Twankey.

It is a clever piece of theatre, with excellent choreography, an extremely talented cast, imaginative staging, and a script which is both festive and current. Widow Twankey says, when describing her previous business, a balloon shop, that “it closed due to inflation.” Wishy adds “it was a real blow.” In one scene Widow Twankey and Wishy share a joke about three customers: I don’t know, what and who. The script and timing is perfect and chaos reigns with the audience completely gripped and laughing along.

Modern though it may be, it doesn’t forget any of the pantomime traditions and along the way there are certainly a few, “oh no he didn’t” and “oh yes he did” moments, along with an excellent scene with an Egyptian mummy and you guessed it, the chance to shout, “he’s behind you!” followed quickly by, “we’ll have to do it again, then.”

Of course, no pantomime is complete without a competition. Once again, this production of Aladdin ensures all wishes come true. Widow Twankey jokes, “in unique never been seen before in pantomime history.” Then, ta da, we have a competition to see which side of the theatre can sing Jingle Bells the loudest. Wishy comments, “make it loud enough for Santa Claus in the North Pole to hear us.”

In the grand finale the cast remind us that love and family is what matters most and what a great sentiment to take home, especially after such high energy, festive fun. It really is a great family show and one not to miss this Christmas.

Immersion Theatre are performing Aladdin at The Kenton Theatre until 29 December. For tickets, please visit ALADDIN – Kenton Theatre