Dame Jack leads the pack in outstanding Southsea panto
Review: Aladdin, Kings Theatre, Southsea, until Sunday, January 5.
Jack Edwards probably ought to be made a real dame in the New Year’s Honours. His is the outstanding performance in a panto night shot through with quality in Portsmouth.
Everyone is firing on all cylinders in an Aladdin full of fun, great good spirit and all the fine things that the very best pantomimes absolutely need to have.
Boyzone’s Shane Lynch is a big presence as the baddie, the villain of the piece desperate to steal the magic lantern and make himself stinkingly rich. Worst crime of all, he gets his cronies to sing their support of Southampton football club...
The Voice star Lucy Kane makes the very best of the Princess Jasmine role, a part which can often seem just a little bit colourless, but is actually anything but in her hands.
Elsewhere, Mike Goble, who somehow manages also to be co-writer and director, is simply terrific in the Buttons type role as Wishee Washee, full of energy, completely engaging and relentless in his awful jokes.
Phats & Small’s Ben Ofoedu is high impact when he’s summoned to join the party, just before the interval. Like everyone else, he’s hugely adept at getting the audience going.
Ditto Daniel Slade as our Aladdin, a fine performance which sees him combine beautifully with Goble as they try to thwart the evil getting in the way of true love’s course. There’s a real sense of magic as Aladdin soars over the audience on his magic carpet.
And that’s the strength of the whole production – everyone working so strongly and so generously together, sharing the laughs and doubling the fun.
It’s a true ensemble show – just as every good pantomime should be.
But there’s no denying that it’s Jack Edwards as Widow Twankee who brings the house down. Her repeated flirting with a poor chap, presumable faintly terrified in the first few rows, is beautifully and hysterically maintained.
And there’s great fun too in the fake reluctance to do the 12 Twelve Days of Christmas routine which we just know is coming.
Edwards gives us panto dame-ing at its very very best, the perfect mix of skill and spontaneity.
A great show. Just a slight quibble. The three-hour running time might just be a little long for some of the really tinies...