The Stag pub in Victoria may be no more, but like any pantomime hero, it takes more than demolition and homelessness to keep the Above The Stag panto down. After last years sell out Sleeping Beauty: One Little Prick the team are back together with Get Aladdin, hosted by the lovely Landor Theatre in Clapham.
The usual components have survived the move. Theatre above a pub? Check. More innuendo than you can shake a massive stick at? Check. Gratuitous partial nudity? Check. So Above The Stag fans will not be disappointed, even if the pub downstairs doesn’t quite have the seedy civil servant feel of the old Victoria stalwart.
Our hero, a street thief, Aladdin (Greg Airey), has fled with his widowed mum from their Chinese laundry in Clapham and ended up in the Chinese province of Hao Hung (you were warned about the innuendo). Aladdin stumbles upon a magic lamp (and somehow loses his clothes in the ensuing landslide) and attempts to win the heart of the gay geek prince of Hao Hung (George Bull) whilst defeating the evil Abanazer (Matthew Baldwin channelling Lord Sugar).
To be honest – that’s all the plot you really know – no one’s come for a line by line retelling of Sherazade’s bed time story. You get all the elements you want from a panto, songs, audience participation, a fantastic dame (Josh Rochford), and love stories both gay and straight – and all very much not for kids.
There are some fun performances, Matthew Baldwin is clearly loving the role of pantomime villain and Josh Rochford has an excellent endless supply of facial expressions as a larger than life pantomime dame. We even get a wonderful magic carpet ride to enjoy – and ridiculous tenuous excuse to sing Gangnam Style. And although the plot is less tight than last years Sleeping Beauty/Twilight parody there’s plenty of satire and clever lines to keep the audience smiling.
The show is over long – at 3 hours it could do with a little trimming around the edges, particularly the first act (acknowledged as much in a line from the Genie [Sarah Dearlove], just after Aladdin finally gets his kit off). The ticket price could perhaps do with a trim too, which at £18 feels a little steep.
But these complaints aside – Get Aladdin makes the most of it’s temporary home and brings a bit of the Stag to south London. All in all, a not unenjoyable evening helped along by complimentary mulled wine on arrival.
**Get Aladdin runs at the Landor Theatre until 13 January. Tickets cost £18 and are available from the Landor Theatre box office or by calling 020 7737 7276.