Review: Aladdin And The Twankeys conjures up a magic night out

Wagon wielder… Berwick Kaler
16 Dec 2013 @ 8.12 am
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Meet the gang… (L-R) Al Braatz, AJ Powell, Berwick Kaler and Martin Barrass. Photographs: York Theatre Royal / Robert Day
Meet the gang… (L-R) Al Braatz, AJ Powell, Berwick Kaler and Martin Barrass. Photographs: York Theatre Royal / Robert Day

Review: Aladdin And The Twankeys
Venue: December 13, 2013

A more fantastic evening before Christmas could not have been imagined. The pantomime once again had everything, leaving both myself and seven year old Freddie with smiles on our faces.

Having once been a regular at the Christmas pantomime, I was excited to learn that I would be going back (a little older) to see a different take on Aladdin.

This was not just your average Aladdin, no, this was a Berwick Kaler Aladdin, given a new twist by him and his gang. Martin Barrass (Aladdin’s identical twin) was on top form, referring to himself as the West End star and even managing to get dunked in ice cold water by the Dame, Berwick himself of course.

Jonathan Race, filling the boots of David Leonard as the baddie Abanazar, was equally as rewarding and was met with plenty of boos and hisses as he came on stage. This was in sharp contrast to sweet Suzy Cooper as Princess Peke-a-boo who looked fantastic, not changing a bit over the years.

Al Braatz took the role of a Canadian Aladdin and played it well, showing that his move up from the chorus was well deserved.

Naturally, the Dame was Freddie’s favourite part of the night. However the Genie, played by York’s Harry Hughes, was a revelation. Despite Berwick trying to distract him from the plot line with his usual antics, he stayed strong and it was nice to see a young boy with a big role – and equally as big hair.

His costume was extreme to say the least with an electric blue leotard and sparkling heeled boots to complete the look. He was another of the cast to experience the ice cold water bath, mangle and steam room much to Freddie’s delight.

Wagon wielder… Berwick Kaler
Wagon wielder… Berwick Kaler
Empress of China Sian Howard and Princess Peke-a-Boo Suzy Cooper
Empress of China Sian Howard and Princess Peke-a-Boo Suzy Cooper
Widow Twankey is a dame in distress as Jonathan Race while Abanazer is in wicked form
Widow Twankey is a dame in distress while Jonathan Race as Abanazer is in wicked form

The energy from the dancers was incredible and two of the young boys, James Tomlinson and Jake Lindsay, particularly stood out. This may have been to do with their bleached blond hair, or the fact that they also had to endure some teasing from the Dame himself.

These spontaneous outbreaks from Berwick Kaler are what make the pantomime so special and you cannot help but laugh when things go a little off schedule. Surprisingly there were no real setbacks, only a few moments when the cast could not stop laughing long enough to get their words out, however as Berwick stated, “it is Friday the 13th after all”.

Audience participation was at an all time high with “Tom from Acomb” getting up onstage to assist Jonathan Race with a particular escape scene. Tom had been attending the panto for over 20 years and unfortunately for him, the time had come to be humiliated.

He handled it well though and after being forgotten about on stage, returned to his seat accompanied by a huge cheer from the audience.

As Freddie and I complained about missing out on a wagon wheel (I have yet to catch one), we contemplated what had been the highlights of the night.

For me, the overall energy and excitement of the cast was completely contagious and it is evident that everyone loved what they were doing. For Freddie, it was the Dame and the outrageous outfits he appeared in, including wearing a ten foot long snake named Sylvia around his neck.

All in all it was a fantastic performance. Artistic director Damian Cruden should be proud. We had smiles on our faces all night and I will definitely be going back next year!


  • Aladdin And The Twankeys is at York Theatre Royal until Saturday, February 1
  • For more information, see the Theatre Royal webiste