Review: Aladdin, Customs House, South Shields, until January 7

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TWENTY minutes into the second half of this brilliant panto, the lady on my left turned to me: “They’ll have to stop making me laugh, my side is really hurting.”

Yes, this show is so good, it should come with a health warning. Perhaps a “good‘health warning”, and even in places a “rude health warning.”

For more than 30 years Ray Spencer and Bob Stott have been creating panto mayhem, so it’s hardly surprising that they can deliver the perfect show.

This year’s Aladdin is as good as panto gets.

The plot is superfluous, but for what it’s worth, here you are – Dame Dotty, the owner of a struggling laundry, becomes instantly rich when her son Aladdin finds a magical lamp, a lamp that the evil Abanazar is desperate to get his hands on.

The performances of the cast, without exception, are impeccable. Steven Lee Hamilton is superb in the eponymous role, full of natural charm and energy, and his voice is a real joy. His stage partner is Alice Brown who plays Princess Amira. Alice’s vocals match Steven’s and her Princess is the right combination of feistiness and coyness.

Peter Darrant is suitably over the top as the wicked Abanazar and nearly steals the show with a brilliant version of Death is just around the corner.

However, this is Ray and Bob’s show. They light up every scene they’re in. Their ad libs are a treat and the laundry slapstick scene is just brilliant, as is an old Abbott and Costello routine they milk it for all they’re worth.

They hit the right balance of humour for the young and old, with plenty of cheeky asides meant purely for the adults. You can tell how much they are enjoying the show themselves and the warmth they generate from appreciative audiences will be a lesson to bigger, starrier pantos this Christmas.