The wonderful thing about watching a show where the director is also the choreographer is that there is a single, cohesive vision to the production.
Edinburgh People’s Theatre: Aladdin
Church Hill Theatre
Star rating: * *
Scenes shift into one and other comfortably, there is purpose behind the dance pieces and there is an underlying understanding of how crowds and groups occupy the space on a stage.
For amateur directors these are areas that are often full of pitfalls, yet Mandy Black has sidestepped most of them beautifully in Aladdin.
Where work needs to be done, however, is with the performers themselves. There is a lot of budding potential in this little cast but one can’t help but escape the feeling that there needs to be a little reshuffling here and there in the show to make it zing.
Of course, the point of amateur theatre is that it’s an opportunity for people who love theatre to go out and have fun and develop their skill, not necessarily to achieve the pinnacle of professional perfection, but casting has to be good enough to beguile an audience into suspending their disbelief rather than challenging them to spend the night guessing the real-life age difference between a parent and their child. A case in point is the wonderful Anne Mackenzie who played the lovely Princess Baldroubadour, and who regular EPT goers will remember as a remarkably engaging Miss Marple earlier in the year. She certainly plays a versatile age range.
Holding the action together as perky Wishee Washee is Erin Kelly, who played a similar role in last year’s Mother Goose. Her skill in chatting to an audience and getting them involved in the action really stands out and gives the production as a whole a generous boost.
Where Black needs to turn her attention is eliciting more depth and creative understanding of the characters’ motivation from her performers and working on their comic timing. It would also benefit the show enormously if she took them to task about learning their lines. For audiences there’s a lot of innocent fun to be found in Aladdin and the script has been well adapted for locals – Aladdin’s escape from the cave is a particular delight
• Run ends December 30