Review: Pun-packed panto is well worth the ticket price

Ali Baba
Ali Baba

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth Until January 3

The Talisman Theatre ensemble certainly know how to handle a pun or two. They’ve been doing it for years, and their experience shows throughout this colourful, vibrant family show.

Rob Wooton as the dame, Fatima Fandango, is funny, flamboyant and flirtatious. Graham Underhill as Asbad is his dark counterpart, devilishly handsome, scheming and sly.

He is aided (if that’s the word) by the hapless duo Bashim (Mike Santos) and Grabbit (John Francis). Together they are determined to steal Princess Jasmine’s (Ellie Gowers) gold by whatever means they can, the fouler the better.

Fortunately they are up against the forces of good in the shape of the squeaky clean

Ashley Clifford, whose boy-band looks and voice make him a perfect Ali Baba, and the good hearted but not too bright servant Mustafa (played with slap-stick proficiency by Keir Butterwick).

There is love, of course, between Kelly Davidson, who is cheeky and charming as Marjana, and Simon Moss, who out Woosters Bertie Wooster as Prince Harim. Fay Staton is the bad dog spirit Alsatia, and Rosemary Gowers sports the tightest trousers as the perfect puss Caterina.

Other members of the cast and the wonderfully athletic chorus tuck into their parts with glee.

Dull indeed would be the one who did not warm to the pleasures of a panto’ of this calibre. Never mind if the dialogue is a bit flat at times: the jokes will set you chortling and the songs will have you singing along with glee.

It’s all good silly fun, and well worth the price of a ticket.

Rating 9/10

By Nick Le Mesurier