Aladdin, New Wimbledon Theatre, London

3.00

Pam gives panto an added bounce

It's that rare time one might welcome some product placement – would Pamela Anderson, we wondered, be wearing some of her "cruelty-free lingerie" as the genie of Aladdin's lamp? As it turns out, no, but, even in a modest bathing costume and what seems to be a satin chilli pepper on her head, she is a vision indeed as she is lowered from the flies on a surfboard, Hollywood smile beaming and toothpick legs dangling.

Anderson is up to the demands of the role – cheerleader enthusiasm, harem-girl submissiveness, and a bit of pouting – though she does not always throw the right switch. Revealing the wonders of the cave, her "Behold!" sounds distinctly blasé. Anderson cheerfully adapts to our traditional art form, wriggling and jiggling and gently sending herself up: when Brian Blessed's Abanazar orders her to praise him, she sighs and says, "All right, you're the best drummer in the world."

Disappointingly, however, she does not have a proper confrontation with our own larger-than-life star. Draped in a fuchsia hippie blanket, a small hassock on his head, his supposed fierceness constantly undercut by his open-mouthed joy at being booed, Blessed is genial and cosy, a slack and shambling villain. One waits in hope that his snarls will turn to lubricious insinuations, or that he will be, like the rest of the male cast, mesmerised by Anderson's bouncing beach balls. But, when Blessed finally gets his hands on the lamp, gloating, "She's all mine!", Anderson quickly shrugs him off and skitters away on her Vivienne Westwood platforms.

For the most part, Ian Talbot's production is pleasantly traditional, with lively, pretty children and chorus girls, nicely quaint scenery, jeers at inferior south London neighbourhoods, lots of good old jokes and fairly painless new ones – none of which, tactfully, allude to the genie's past or physique. But, apart from a Cole Porter song (will we ever see his version of Aladdin, the last show he wrote?) and a slapstick comic number, the music is the usual raucous pop stuff and the dances perfunctory, lessening the viewer's engagement rather than enhancing mood or story. Panto may not be Rodgers and Hart, or even Andrew Lloyd Webber, but why discard 80 years of musical-comedy history? Jonathan D Ellis's Widow Twankey wears a series of stunning outfits – the citrus-festival one is particularly noteworthy, and the bolero of Marigolds very smart – but his delivery lacks the energy he brings to his high-kicking routines, and his randy, seen-it-all drag-queen persona is tedious and trite. It will be redundant as well when Paul O'Grady takes over the genie role (other replacements are Ruby Wax and Anita Dobson). Paul Thornley, by contrast, has the right sort of panto vim as Aladdin's dim-but-willing brother, Wishee Washee. Talbot's urbane Emperor of China is a droll character – but why no comedy song for him and the widow? Their tête-à-tête near the end seems to call for a middle-aged comic-romantic duet. Ashley Day's Aladdin is blank and boring, Leila Benn Harris's princess frumpy and boring.

The best thing about the show is its secondary spirit, Djalenga Scott, as the slave of the ring. Lithe and fetching, with a mysterious East European accent and a manner that is at once sexy and a detached tease of sexiness, she lights up the stage every time she comes on. And when she goes into action, you can tell that, like the girl in "Kansas City", everything she has is absolutely real.

To 10 January, Pamela Anderson appears to 27 December (0844 871 7646)

Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices