Aladdin and the Twankeys York Theatre Royal Review

Aladdin and the Twankeys
York Theatre Royal, York

12 December 2013 – 1 February 2014

Reviewed by Pamela Wright

This was my first time at the York Theatre Royal, although we left in plenty of time we got stuck in heavy traffic and weren’t sure where to park so we got off to a bad start which resulted in me and my 8 year old dashing into the theatre like headless chickens.We picked up our tickets easily and were shown straight to our seats in the dress circle.Unfortunately the show had already started but we had only missed a few minutes. We quickly got seated and comfy, I looked at my daughter at she was sat with her coat half off with the biggest grin on her face – I asked her if she was excited and she said yes – look how high up we are – it’s cool.

Before I let you know what I think of the show I just have to say to all the staff at the York Theatre Royal – you have an absolutely amazing beautiful theatre, the decorations/seating/lighting is beautiful and your staff are absolutely brilliant. Also I would like to apologise in advance if my review is slightly long but this was no ordinary panto – it’s definitely a 2 for the price of 1 show in my eyes so I feel like the review should do it justice:

Abanazar (played by Jonathan Race) was already on the stage at this point with the audience booing him. Then came Aladdin (played by Al Braatz), as soon as he came on my daughter was jumping up and down clapping with excitement. Martin Barrass who plays Mankee Twankee (Aladdin’s identical twin brother!) and the hilarious old man Wisehopper is absolutely brilliant, the 2 roles are a complete contrast but he does then sooooo well, I’m quite embarrassed admitting this but I didn’t actually realise he played both characters until I had the chance to read the programme in the interval. 

It took me a while to get my head around the show as I’ve never been to one starring Berwick Kaler (who played Widow Twankey) – which I’m guessing by the huge sudden excitement from the audience when he appeared on stage that I was more than likely one of the only few there that hadn’t. It’s a traditional panto but with a comedy show combined that’s very cleverly written/rehearsed but also has the ability to go off in other directions with off the cuff remarks depending on how the audience interacts with them. The balance was really good and worked well thought out, myself and my daughter both had a brilliant time (although we were slightly tired at the end as it’s a 3 hour show plus interval). 

It took me a while to realise why I found Widow Twankey so funny but it suddenly dawned on me in the interval, he doesn’t wear any “dame” makeup or use a fake female voice so we’re all really laughing at a brilliant hilarious man in a dress which I think adds the extra edge to his performances – at some points he didn’t even have to say anything, just his stage presence and expression had people in knots of laughter. 

There were some scenes when things happened (i.e. something wasn’t where it was meant to be or things didn’t work property but rather than not acknowledge it they brought it into the scene which added extra comedy). There were lots of brilliant bits in the show – the special effects at the end of act 1 during Aladdin (Al Braatz) singing “seize the day” were absolutely amazing and I take my hat off to him as I’d have been terrified.

My daughters favourite bits were the children that took part in the production – especially when they were dressed as Hens, she also loved the toothbrush song at the end and the one minute wash and go (which I have to admit I had tears of laughter strolling down my face during that set).

My favourite bit has got to be the “we are yorkies” bit with the video – OMG that was hilarious – I’d loved to have been around to see that being filmed.

The end of the show was lovely – especially when they read all the announcements/requests – there are families that clearly look forward to their yearly fix and make it a huge family celebration. If families who range from age 3 to 89 are still coming every year and have been for over 25 years then that says it all about the show and the cast members.

I’m sorry if I haven’t mentioned every cast member – I know it’s a small cast but you were all absolutely amazing and did a brilliant job of pulling off a fabulous show.

And finally on a more serious note – we’re 100% behind you with your campaign to stop people using hand-held mobiles when driving on cycling – there are far too many accidents & deaths due to this reason.

A huge big fat 5/5 from me & me babbies & me bairns!

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £13 to £26.50 (plus £1 booking fee per transaction).

For more information or to book tickets click here.

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