Pantomime Review: Aladdin and the Twankeys - York Theatre Royal ✭✭✭✭

Aladdin and the Twankeys
York Theatre Royal

30th December 2013: Its not often I go to a pantomime nearly halfway through a run, but I'll be honest with you and say that I'm glad I did. Sometimes a press night can be slow, unfinished, cuts need to be made to script to tighten it all up. On this occasion, what I saw was a perfectly polished lamp of a show.

Berwick Kaler is back once again playing the nation's favourite dame, this is now his 35th Panto at York Theatre Royal, and he hasn't lost any of his energy or humour as the years have gone by. Berwick writes the show and co-directs with Damian Cruden, and between them they have a recipe of success. From the opening 'Babbies and Bairns' anthem, the regular York crowd know what they are in for an evening of pure top notch festive fun. They are definitely not disappointed.

The thing I like about the shows here at York Theatre Royal are that they are original, freshly written each year, write most of their own music and don't rely on big name stars of stage and screen to get bums on seats (well they do have a big west end star by the name of Martin Barrass in the show every year...). The formula is plain to see, write a good script, have a sort of plot you can sort of follow, and put in some great dancing, a touch of singing, a transformation scene with flying over the audience, a UV scene, video, slap-stick, song sheets... the list goes on, this panto has it all.

Jonathan Race steps into the Baddie boots this year as Abanazer, and Kaler gives more stage banter to the ever present Martin Barrass (Recently seen as Alfie in the West End hit One Man, Two Guvnors). Martin still leaps and skips about on stage with his boundless energy, but also is given an older character, Wisehopper, along with old chinese proverbs and quick costume changes to be the twin of Aladdin - Mankee Twankey! The whole cast are in splendid form, Suzy Cooper's Princess Peke-A-Boo is a delight to watch, AJ Powell is hilarious as Genie of the Bling with his Brummie accent, and the rest of the ensemble fit into place perfectly.

Add all this together, and you can see why York Theatre Royal is rated as one of the top pantomimes in the country each year. Will they be able to make it even better next time round? Kaler and Cruden always have something up their sleeves, and it will be interesting to find out what they have in store for audiences next year.

Four stars ✭✭✭✭

Aladdin and the Twankeys runs at York Theatre Royal until 1st February 2014