Brilliant Baba was a slick, balanced panto

Warkworth Drama Group'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves'Milly Walton, Bethan Roberts and Marcia Giacomini
Warkworth Drama Group'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves'Milly Walton, Bethan Roberts and Marcia Giacomini

REVIEW: Warkworth Drama Group performed Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves at Warkworth Memorial Hall from Thursday, December 11, to Saturday, December 13.

Ancient Baghdad received a highly entertaining and comical makeover in Warkworth as the drama group staged Ali Baba and the 40 thieves.

This was a slick, well-balanced show, with strong performances by panto veterans and newcomers alike.

What was clear was the sheer hard work that had gone into staging such an ambitious production. Director Antonia Maria Hoskins and a cast and crew of nearly 50 threw the proverbial kitchen sink into the panto pot; there was innovation with projected backdrops, wonderful handmade costumes, a brilliant set, and great singing and dancing - especially the belly dancing.

Our hero Ali, expertly played by Bethan Roberts, loves beautiful slave girl Safiya, excellently portrayed by newcomer Niamh Mackintosh, but has to raise 50 dinars to win her freedom from his money-grabbing sister-in-law Sharon played with just the right comical bitchiness by Marci Giacomini.

Ali sets about plundering the riches of evil sheikh Mustafa Leikh (Andrew Beaton) to raise the money. A note to the drama group – don’t lose this man’s telephone number, he was terrific. His reluctant love interest came under duress in the shapely form of Dame Mum Baba played with delightful comic timing by panto regular John Sellers.

The cast and crew worked their socks off to ensure the audience had a great time as they were encouraged to join in with singing, booing, hissing and the traditional game of catching the hurled sweet.

Among the other highlights was the cleverly inserted Monty Python Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition cameo, which was beautifully reproduced by Annabel Mackintosh, Emily Gray and Vicky Coleran; Yessah (Milly Davis) and Nossah’s (Lucy Miller-Trotter) quick-fire confusion of question and answer with Sheik Leikh, and Kamil the Camel (Connor Davis).