Aladdin and His Magical Europe Refugee Tour 2016

The show is a modern adaptation of the famous Arab folk story, in which Aladdin takes his wife Jasmine (her real name is too difficult for a European audience to pronounce) to Greece, Italy and Scotland to seek asylum. Along the way, they are forced to go away after a temporary stay. It is a bit like our ticket to this show, as the Norwegian duo Åsleik & Jon tells us at the outset – we will have to move out before the next one begins.

Ultimately, the show does not seek any easy resolutions.

In their terms, the refugee crisis is re-worked into a fantasy comedy with Åsleik as Aladdin and Jon playing a range of roles including the genie, the overzealous Swedish girl who ‘saves’ a refugee, and several immigrant officers from different countries. They also brought a massive wardrobe along that has several compartments where various props magically emerge, and which serve as a stage prop by itself.

The duo does not shy away from difficult political questions, and through their musical numbers, they are able to make fun of conservatives who are anti-immigration. They also mock the idea that refugees are all potential terrorists, and return with some caricatures of other European countries of their own. Jon’s Italian tomato mafia is a gloriously funny creation, as is his (bad) impersonation of a Scottish border guard.

Ultimately, the show does not seek any easy resolutions. Aladdin’s three wishes do run out rather quickly. They don’t, in Åsleik’s words ‘solve the refugee crisis’, and the whole point of the show is just that: a series of funny songs and idiosyncratic fairy-tale manoeuvres that finally don’t add up, and can’t add up to anything transformative. It does, however, leave the audience with a smile on their faces, without really touching beneath the smokescreen of pain and misery that confronts the Syrian refugees every day. But, as they would say, how could they? They are just two white men trying to indulge themselves.

Reviews by Timothy Leonine Tsang

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Performances

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The Blurb

Aladdin, his wife and genie flee to Europe for a better future in this musical road comedy that gives voice to the refugee crisis. An adventure including Greek beaches, exhausted immigration officials, Italian tomato mafia, suicide bombers and smartphones. Using a mix of physical theatre, live music, puppetry, storytelling, stand-up comedy and a little help from the audience, Norwegian multi-artists Åsleik & Jon make their debut at the Fringe. ‘I have hardly ever laughed as much in theatre… sparkling original text in exquisite cooperation with the composer’ ****** (Aftenposten).

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