Image: Tzu-Chao Chou as the Djinn of the Lamp © Bill Cooper
Birmingham Royal Ballet
The Lowry, Salford Quays
Until Saturday 23rd September, 2017
It is safe to say that Birmingham Royal Ballet have been on a truly superb run of form in recent years with sumptuous touring productions of Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and Swan Lake, but as the highlight of their new Autumn season, the light, family friendly Aladdin doesn’t always hit the considerable benchmark they’ve previously set themselves.
First performed by the company back in 2013, Aladdin remains a solid production, bursting with colour, animation and bold design, though with its basic, pantomime-esque plot and simplistic storytelling, combined with a lack of the high technical ambition the company usually presents, it does feel notably watered down for its younger target audience.
That lack of plot substance does however leave plenty of space for choreographer David Bintley and company to showcase their impressive talents, all the while demonstrating strong aspects of physical theatre, comedic timing and characterisation against a challenging and multifaceted Carl Davis score.
Mathias Dingman proves very engaging as the mischievous young Aladdin, swapping the serious nature of previous roles for a more whimsical and lighthearted approach, and building on her success in last year’s Cinderella, the elegant Momoko Hirata delivers yet another delicate and graceful performance as Princess Badr al-Budur.
As seen with Iain Mackay as the villainous Mahgrib, Jonathan Payn as the Sultan, and Marion Tait as Aladdin’s Mother, the supporting ‘character’ roles are heavily reliant on the mime and physical comedy aspects previously mentioned, however the excellent Tzu-Chao Chou is perhaps the production’s real standout as the agile and athletic Djinn (Genie) of the Lamp.
The design team of Dick Bird (sets), Sue Blane (costumes) and Mark Jonathan (lighting) deserve special mention and do excellent work respectively, adding necessary levels of dimension, atmosphere and texture to the production.
Despite its flaws, Aladdin feels fresh, light and showcases a company and orchestra on excellent form. It may not have sophistication on its side but it certainly fulfils its brief as a feel-good family-friendly affair.
Act I – 51 minutes (approx.)
Interval – 20 minutes
Act II – 31 minutes (approx.)
Interval – 20 minutes
Act III – 32 minutes (approx.)
Total: 2 hours and 34 minutes (approx.)
Final Performance at The Lowry: Saturday 23rd September, 2017.
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