ALADDIN AND THE MAGIC LAMP
by Lizzie Hopley.
The North Wall South Parade OX2 7JN To 5 January 2013.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 01865 766266.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 December.
Lively musical play with comedy from a company that’s too good for Oxford to lose.
What most people know about Aladdin would fit into Lizzie Hopley’s new play for Creation Theatre like a postage stamp on a postcard. It’s part of the thing, it’s vital to get it moving, but it only covers a small part of the territory. Here is an immigrant Aladdin, come from Morocco to China, whose father’s failed to make a living as a tailor in a land where there’s no money (during, presumably, a less prosperous part of that country’s economic cycle than now).
When dad expires, single Mum brings Aladdin up on next-to-nothing. And not so well; he’s mad bad, if quite invigorating to know; in James Yeoburn’s performance a quick-witted lad who needs a sense of purpose. This comes billowing from the sea with a supposed uncle whose wicked attempt is to gain the magic lamp.
Aladdin doesn’t know his luck, for the dirty reality of the gutter has more life than the super-sanitised, perpetually swept, spray-thickened atmosphere of the sanitised court where the Sultan takes such close care of his daughter that not only no germ, but no friend, can reach her. Or couldn’t if she didn’t keep sneaking out. Another resourceful youngster, so when they so much as see each other the plot-line’s set to go.
Wicked magician ‘uncle’ provides more menace in the second act, but as someone whose childish petulance and shrinking of another character to a tinny-voiced tiny links him with the play’s comedy, his final fate is satisfyingly appropriate.
Getting down to mucky reality goes with finding your own feet, which happens after a lot of wobbly moments along the way. And with finding friends; Aladdin’s maturity is signalled as he replaces command of the Jinnees with a humanising friendship.
There’s resolute playing throughout, Charlotte Thornton comically resilient and realistic as only a patient Mum can be, and Anna O’Loughlin pirouetting up and down aerial streamers before putting a hoop through some impressive paces in Charlotte Conquest’s colourfully vigorous production. There are songs, pleasant enough if not memorable, while Neil Irish and Ashley Bale provide a colourful picture of downtown and palace.
Sorcerer: Timothy Allsop.
Princess: Isla Carter.
Ring Jinnee: Anna O’Loughlin.
Sultan/Lamp Jinnee: Nicholas Osmond.
Father/Visor: Chris Porter.
Mum: Charlotte Thornton.
Aladdin: James Yeoburn.
Director: Charlotte Conquest.
Designer: Neil Irish.
Lighting: Ashley Bale.
Sound/Musical Arranger: Matt Eaton.
Composer/Musical Director: Jack Merivale.
Movement/Choreographer: Aidan Treays.
Assistant director: Miriam Higgins.
Assistant designer: Libby Davis.