The Dukes’ annual festive performance has arrived, and this year it’s the magical tale of Aladdin.

Although many of us know the tale of Aladdin, The Dukes does what it does best and presents the audience with a clean sweep of the story while remaining faithful to the original. For this production, we follow the story of the freeing of the Genie (Delme Thomas). As the Genie himself says, standing in a bobble hat and sheepskin coat, this is how “I became a market trader”.  

Meanwhile, Aladdin (Marcquelle Ward) is an ordinary boy, living with his mother (Helen Longworth) who runs a launderette service. But business is slow and Aladdin and his mother are struggling to survive. Fortunes appear to change when Aladdin is reunited with his long lost uncle (Arif Javid). But is he really who he says he is? This reunion leads Aladdin to the discovery of the magic lamp. With endless wishes, Aladdin thinks his life will change for the better, but it‘s going to take a lot more than that to win the love of the Princess (Dora Rubinstein), a spoilt girl who already has anything she wants from her suitably northern farther, the Sultan (Arif Javid). We accompany Aladdin on his journey of self discovery as he learns the value of life. 

Marcquelle Ward (Aladdin) with the magic lampWe all know that if you rub the magic lamp, the Genie will appear. But this Genie is unlike any other. He appears from the lamp dressed in a sparkly, purple jumpsuit and moon boots that can only have been borrowed from the wardrobe of the late David Bowie. Shimmying through the audience, the Genie is a real charmer, so much so that the two ladies sat next to me argued over who would take him home. Full of sarcasm and wit, the Genie was undoubtedly the star of the show.

This production is fun and energetic and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, with plenty of those typical pantomime moments that we all know and love including the essential audience participation. The music – with excellent vocals from the cast – got the audience clapping and singing along. There was even a sing-along moment for the adults as the princess and Aladdin danced in the ballroom to George Michael’s Careless Whisper.   

The Dukes puts on a truly spellbinding performance, full of trickery including the evil uncle locking Aladdin in a chest only for him to magically appear among the audience. But most impressive was how The Dukes managed to put on such a fantastic family performance with a minimal set, a small stage and a cast of only five actors. With tactical use of props and costume and outstanding performances from the actors, once again The Dukes has brought to us another highly entertaining production.

By Rebekah Baxter

Images by Joel Fildes

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Aladdin is at The Dukes until January 6, 2018. For more information, click here.