Flying dragons? Dancing elephants? Giant monkey goddesses? Oh yeah, this Aladdin's got it all. It also has lots of East London in-jokes, plenty of politics (touching on everything from Brexit to the Windrushers), some fun twists (Aladdin is a girl, for one) and a super-talented cast led by Clive Rowe as the Widow Twankey and Tameka Empson as the Empress of Ha-Ka-Ney. They are brilliant – look out for their version of 'Survivor' in Act II, which had the audience in stitches.
Initially, seeing the panto was two-and-a-half-hours' long, I worried my almost-six-year-old would struggle to sit through the early evening performance. Not only was she bouncing off her seat the entire time, she repeatedly reprimanded me if I failed to clap or shout at the appropriate time.
There was plenty to mesmerise my little one: explosions, water gun fights with audience members getting squirted, flying genies and dragons, tap-dancing pandas, favourite songs, including hits from The Greatest Showman and plenty of audience participation. The duets between Aladdin (Gemma Sutton) and his beloved, Princess Ling Mai (Julie Yammanee) had a fun Disney princess-meets-rebel girl spirit and were a pleasure to hear (their voices are just gorgeous).
Hackney Empire is celebrating 20 years of panto this season, and they are experts when it comes to the genre. Think you don't want to see another panto this season? Oh yes, you do – and it's going to be Aladdin.
|What||Aladdin, Hackney Empire review|
|Where||Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, London, E8 1EJ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Old Street (underground)|
|Price||£starts at £10|
|Website||Click here for more and to book tickets|