ALADDIN - A Pantomime

Bath Unity Players, Roper Theatre, Hayesfield School, Bath. December 2011.


Nick Lawrence reports :


What a wonderful auditorium to perform in !  So spacious and new.  Well, you were the first to use it for public performance.  I hope you are able to make use of the space again in the future and that it becomes a favoured space for lots of Bath’s amateur groups. 


What was important on this occasion was that you made best use of the wonderful arena.  You should be congratulated on making good use of the space.  I expect you’ve got some ideas about how you might improve things, but you should be congratulated for not trying to over stretch yourselves.  As you were well aware, the cast were getting used to the emptiness and making better use of the space at every performance.  Having your musicians in the DR corner seemed to work well.  They could see what was going on and the cast appeared to be able to hear them sufficiently.


Alan P. Frayn always offers a good script which is direct, funny and modern.  The choice of this script gave you a good start.    It was entertaining in itself and so was immediately a winner with the audience.  There was a good choice of songs and dance music, none of which went on too long.   This was a wise move.  It’s always best to leave people wanting more.


The visual effect created by the combination of bright costumes, clever scenery and good lighting dazzled the audience.  The wonderful array of beautiful costumes gave that all so important wow factor.   You are well aware of the amazing work of Judith Cooper and her team, but it is my pleasure to highlight it within this report.  The projected “backcloths” certainly added an extra special dimension which was a great benefit to the large stage.  The brightly painted “toberones” were most effective.  Perhaps on a future occasion you could splash out on a further couple to assist with sight lines.  It is a most effective way of provided lots of scenes and with the addition of rostra, gadgets, plants and properties the scenes were most eye-catching.  All this was beautifully lit, without the aid of a large amount of equipment.   There was a problem down stage which was very apparent when scenes took place in front of the tabs.  Actors need to be aware of the limitations of the technicals and adapt to stand in the light !  This may mean adjustments to rehearsed movements being made.  There was too much wandering about in these scenes which made it impossible for the actors always to be well lit:  remember an actor needs to be well lit if he/she is to be heard clearly unless he/she has perfect diction.  Properties were always appropriate and made in true panto style.  Sound effects were well controlled with the police siren working its usual magic. 


Unfortunately there were some problems with the sound system.   What was praiseworthy was the way in which everyone carried on without fuss.   Although the problems were obvious no one allowed this to get in the way of the performance and the crew quickly dealt with matters.   Congratulations to the musicians for soldiering on in difficult circumstances.


The other area in which this panto excelled was in the inclusion of the Curtis School of Dance.  The students offered some enjoyable dancing and added greatly to the overall effect of the show.  It was particularly impressive that the dances fitted so effectively into the script and moved the action along.  Deborah’s choreography was interesting and effective – not just the usual stuff.   I trust that the students found the opportunity interesting and good fun.


The Cast offered a wide range of ages and experience.  Philip Thorpe’s experienced shone through and it was a good move to put him in this pivotal role.  He obviously enjoyed being the baddie.  Meanwhile the young leads were very effective.  Sacha & Kim worked well together without any sign of embarrassment.  There was good comedy from the more experienced actors and Lynda’s Empress was both aggressive and authoritative in equal measure.   The all essential Genie and Spirit of the Ring gave excellent magical performances.


I have to single out, Lily Pitman, who demonstrated the art of stillness and clarity of diction, which enabled everyone to know what was going on and where we were to go next.  Every word was heard and she drew the eye.   These two skills alone should make her much sort after.  We can all learn from the effectiveness of this performance.


A great time was had by all which is what they paid for.   Congratulations to the Production Team, the very efficient back stage crew, the friendly front-of-house personnel and everyone on stage for a thoroughly enjoyable production.   Here’s wishing you all the very best for your next venture.