Typhoo (a Panda)
Wishee Washee – (Widow Twankey’s laundry boy)
The Emperor of China
The Empress of China
The Slave of the Ring
The Slave of the Lamp
Marina Foxlee and Julia Loosemore
Brigitte Edwards, Marion Glossop, Sally James, Clare Loosemore, Julia Loosemore, Olivia Turner
From the Studio School of Dancing
Technical Crew Details:
Christopher J.C. Argles
Reviewed by J.M.A. For The Croydon Advertiser, Friday December 19, 1975
Panto needs punch – even ham!
Aladdin came to Coulsdon last week complete with lamp, genies, dastardly wizard, Widow Twankey and all.
An excellent script, by John Crocker, had catchy songs and good clean slapstick for the kiddies – a rare combination, but TWC seemed to lack their usual punch and style.
I think they were wise to switch from in-the-round presentation to the formal stage. Pantomime is so stylised that a certain distance is essential. Besides, caves and genies need careful stage-management, and this they got from Chris Argles’ production.
Just because of this stylisation, the playing needs to be larger than life, perhaps even with a touch of ham. The players did not speak clearly enough, tending to slur and drop their voices. At the same time they did not emphasise their speech to bring out the salient points. Somebody once said that a good comedian lets everyone know what he is going to do and then does it. TWC had lots of well-organised slapstick, but some of it lost its proper effect.
Tim Andrews was a far too glamorous Widow and did not seem to act with his usual confidence, while his customary henchman in comedy, Tim Young, was a fairly adequate bumbling Emperor.
Rosemary Swinscoe gave a nice traditional Principal Boy rendering, and Jane Andrew was a pretty and demure Princess. The Camel (the two humps having eyeholes for Marina Foxlee and Julia Loosemore) and the playful Panda (Cathie Gunnell) made a hit with at least one excited little girl bobbing up and down in front of me. Tim Warner and Graham Arthur as the Peking police force on toddlers’ scooters must have acquired a good crop of bruises in their hair-raising careers (in both senses!).
Peter Airey was an engaging Wishee-Washee, but Lesley Argles should have been a much more imperious Empress. Stephen Swinscoe looked exceedingly evil as the Wizard and his performance improved greatly during the pantomime, so that at the end you felt he had achieved a suitable degree of nastiness in his acting as well.
Finally the whole should have been lopped by about half an hour, by cutting the over-long bits of business, taking cues up smartly, and not waiting too long for laughs. But as I said, this was not TWC at their best.