REVIEW: Aladdin, Liberty Hall

Of all the family shows to take to the stages during and after Christmas, the Ambrosia Splat Panto has always occupied a special niche, operating from the small St Anthony's Theatre on Merchant Quay. Its special merit lay in adherence to traditional style and form, eschewing elaborate and expensive effects in favour of a basic but tasty stew of comedy, song and dance.

This year, the whole shebang has been transported to the posh new theatre in Liberty Hall, with its wide stage and ample seating facilities; and the question must arise - what may have been lost? The answer is: very little. Sets and costumes are brighter and better, but still on the right side of simplicity. Karl Broderick's script is funny and direct, the cast's attack is the familiar one, and the music and song are as lively as ever. It 's a good swap.

The star of the show is Alan Hughes, who has grown with it over the years. His creation of Sammy Sausages, now a firm favourite, is here Aladdin's brother, and the two battle together against the evil Abbanazar (Tom Ó Brannagáin), who wants the magic lamp and the girl, Jasmine (Sinead Mulvey). Their mother, Widow Twanky, is played by the redoubtable Eileen Reid with a verve that paid its own tribute to the towering Dame of Val Fitzpatrick, who died recently.

Joe Conlon again dons drag to play an off-the-wall genie of the lamp, a quivering Buffy Minogue (sister of Kylie), who has her own libidinous wishes.

Amanda Brunker is Lotus Blossom, a sultry siren with an old-fashioned bosom - the kind that heaves. Danny O'Connor is every inch the heart-throb as Aladdin, ogling the audience. There is a new boy band with four singers/shakers making their moves, and a well-choreographed chorus of stage-school dancers.

This one has the real feel of seasonal greetings and makes it easy to return them.

Continues until January 25th; booking on 01-8721122