Iain cleaning up the laughs

widow twankey

Oh yes it is! Iain Lauchlan as Widow Twankey and Craig Hollingsworth as Wishee Washee keeping it all clean. Picture: Robert Day


Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


IF Iain ‘Laughin’ Lauchlan (and I love that man’s laugh!) doesn’t enjoy his time in Pantoland he’s the best actor I’ve ever seen and should be doing Lear!

But I feel fairly safe that he and his co-star Craig Hollingsworth have a ball. Their Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee double act is the stuff of dreams.

However William Finkenrath gave them a run for their money as the Emperor of China in a brilliantly funny performance. He is a joy to watch.

Aladdin is set in old Peking so Widow Twankey’s Chinese laundry makes a lot of sense. There’s a lovely bit of business to set the scene about her husband Swanky Lanky Franky having some Hanky Panky with some Yankee that was gorgeous.

The slapstick section of Dame and son doing the washing with their unsuspecting accomplice getting a foam bath is very funny and a good centrepiece.

Princess Jasmine (Arina Li) and Aladdin (Morna Macpherson) and the ‘little people’ are given plenty to do, and baddie Abanazer (Sion Lloyd) suitably nasty and very green. The spirit of the ring (Joanne Sandi – beautiful diction) and the genie of the lamp (Marcquelle Ward) are given their own story in that they are lovers who only get to meet every couple of thousand years. The story is basically traditional with some extra twists that are always welcome. The audience clearly enjoyed every minute if it and though there were no little princesses dressed up it was lovely to see a few babies having their first theatrical experience at little more than six months old!

The funniest bit by far in a fair competition was a cheeky rewrite of the twelve days of Christmas with which we cheerfully sang along if we had breath enough on top of laughing at the antics on stage and in the audience!

To give you a flavour, five gold rings had become five toilet rolls and they found their way all over the auditorium, into the orchestra pit and even into the gallery!

There’s plenty here for all the family, magic flying dragons, sumptuous set, costumes to die for, great songs, the usual entertaining section with the children on stage and a great start to the season.

Three hours in the company of Iain Lauchlan, who both wrote and directed the panto, fair whistles past. More please next year. To 10-01-15

Jane Howard



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