Aladdin - performed December 1986
By John Morley
Performed with the kind permission of Samuel French (London)
Director - Dennis Murfitt
|Strong Pong||Bernie Brindley|
|Wishee Washee Twankey||Christopher Mason|
|Aladdin Twankey||Alison Brett|
|Widow Twankey||Dave Turrell|
|Chopsuey the Twelfth||John Watson|
|Dragona the Thirteenth||Viv Wheatley|
|Princess Say Wen||Leslie Butcher|
|So Shi||Kim Aves|
|Sing Hi||Tammy Web|
|Chow Mein||Kevin Brown|
|Prince Pekoe||Allison Hawkins|
|The Great Abanaza||Jerry Eldridge|
|Rick Shaw||Linda Brindley|
|Mazda - The genie of the lamp||Bill Chapman|
|Madam Flash Bang||Gillian Riley|
|The Egyptian Mummy||Max Eldridge|
From the moment Wishee Washee, played by Christopher Mason, wins the audience over with his loveable, cheeky,
boyish manner, you could sense the warmth of the players coming over to a audience, all too ready to join the fun.
Adrian Bolton and Brenda Chapman, as Bamboo and Typhoo, the Chinese policeman, make the most of their knockabout foolery.
Dave Turrell’s riotously funny Widow Twankey is a joy; his instincts for timing holds the action together splendidly.
Alison Brett makes a lovely, leggy Aladdin whose effervescent personality shines through all the fortunes and
misfortunes that befall this lowly laundry boy.
Lesley Butcher radiates and almost demands affection as the sweet smiling Princess Say Wen. Some of the chorus numbers were rather static but, on the whole, the show moved along with a good variation of pace under the brisk direction of Dennis Murfitt. Superb musicianship in the pit was supplied by Patience Ling, piano, and Greg Garrod, percussion, pigtails and all.
This is the society’s first venture into pantomime and understandably its shrewd director,
Dennis Murfitt, has sought the underpinning of a well-established, not to say, well-worn script as a launching pad.
One or two of the front-of-tabs routines have long ago lost any freshness and spontaneity they may once have
possessed – the football club illustrative puns should have been decently buried ages ago.
But there is so much invention and imagination in the many topical and local colour references decorating
the show that an original home-grown scenario and dialogue scheme could easily spring from the lessons
learned this time round.
The cramped stage hampers large-scale movement but the colourful array of costumes, some dazzlingly extravagant, some deceptively but elegantly simple, fill the acting area with sparkle and glitter against the muted tones of the backgrounds.
Patience Ling on the piano and Greg Garrod on percussion keep the music fresh and bright and
positive while managing to liase with the various idiosyncrasies of the singes. Bruce Emeny’s lighting design
does wonders in a limited space.
The presentation has that indispensable asset, a first-rate Dame in Dave Turrell’s genially coy and unflummoxed Widow Twankey. His command of the grotesque character and the audience is splendid, and his Les Dawson rubber face is hilarious.
Magnificent too is Jerry Eldridge’s villainous and devilishly handsome Abanazar. Endowed with natural presence and resonant voice, the performance never puts a foot wrong and his conversion to “All things bright and beautiful” is the subtlest and funniest single episode of the evening.
Viv Wheatley is an imperious old bat of an Empress and John Watson suffers nicely as her hen-pecked Emperor with a comic cops paring of Adrian Bolton and Brenda Chapman as Bamboo and Typhoo to add to the slapstick. Christopher Mason is an engaging and infectiously cheerful Wishee. Alison Brett’s amazing china-doll eyes light up her personable Aladdin especially when set against Leslie Butcher’s velvety-voiced Say Wen. Among the major characters Bernie Brindley’s fearsome executioner Strong Pong looms large and Linda Brindley’s dainty Rick Shaw threatens to put all the other legs of view into the Peking shade in this cheerful, if now and again, slow-paced show.