Venue: Vanburgh Bowl
Rating: * *
Will Seaward’s last hurrah and the first Pantsoc production in summer, Aladdin: Abanazar strikes back faced a number of difficulties. A seemingly universal adoration for Seaward did not exculpate The Peter Pantomime from being proclaimed overlong and tedious, and you can’t help but think that the majority of people who would enjoy seeing what is essentially ill-structured tomfoolery are likely to already be part of the society.
Ebbing between volume settings of ‘loud’ and ‘louder’, the panto was like being shouted at for two hours. The setting in modern Agrabah and the idea of media invading the lives of celebrities felt shovelled-in. The joke about Nicola from Girls Aloud is years old, exemplifying the fact that whenever the panto veered from the weird and surreal into jibes about modern culture, it didn’t really work. Some of the staging was lazy (perhaps intentionally, as Seaward’s interjections provided some of the funnier moments), but a scene in which a lot of the characters are bound together, having to shuffle around the stage, was painful.
A character unable to cope with the ‘jelly’ he was carrying was a good Boosh-like touch, and both the effeminate genie (Paddy Fysh) and lecherous dame (Marc Vestey) were excellent. Pantsoc’s scripts, though, need both a bit more inspiration and a far more brutal edit.