Andrew Pollard’s ‘Aladdin!’ at The Mercury Theatre

Hello everyone and welcome! 

I know this post has been a little time coming as I’ve not been to as many shows this year (as you can imagine with the world the way it is).  But hopefully I will be able to attend and review more shows in the coming year.
Watching a pantomime at Christmas as a theatre-goer is my favourite thing to do and this year was no exception.

Widow Twankey, Humphrey the Camel & The Emperor of Colchestaria are all sicking on a bench looking all worried and scared.
Antony Staurt-Hicks – Dale Superville – Minal Patel
Photo By: Marc Brenner

A brief overview of the show:
A young Aladdin desperately wants to become a famous rock star. 
He meets Jasmine the Emperor’s daughter, falls in love with her and resolves to find a way to become so rich that he can marry her.  Meanwhile, our antagonist the evil ‘Fabra Cadabra’ believes that she deserves all the power in the world.  Jasmine is then kidnapped.  Hoping that the ‘power of rock’ will protect him, Aladdin goes on a quest with Genie and his friends to save Jasmine from Fabra Cadabra in the “Land of the Mummies”.

Now the review!

I have been in the audience of every Mercury Theatre pantomime since 2016 but for me, this has to be the best pantomime I have seen.  So much fun, frolics and fantastic acting! This is not one to miss!
It has everything a great panto needs: sing along songs, dancing, comedy and so much laughter from start to finish.
James Hameed who plays Aladdin is a super star with a truly amazing singing voice. 
There is great chemistry between Aladdin and Jasmine (Danielle Kassaraté), as with all the cast as a whole.
I am certain that the players had a blast performing the show and this really translated well to the audience.
It was so easy to be swept up in the performance. 

Aladdin, wearing a golden and white hasten clothing, smiling holding Jasmine, who is wearing a green hasten costume.
Danielle Kassarate & James Hameed
Photo By: Marc Brenner

Once again the comedy duo that is Antony Stuart-Hicks and Dale Supervillie were on fire. 
Not being on stage for two years has not stopped them at all!  They had the whole audience in stitches.
I am so happy to see them both together again. They are an absolute joy to watch, making the night even more special!  I personally can’t wait to see the duo again, maybe in next year’s panto? (Hint hint!)

There was a great use of light and colour throughout the whole show.  Each character had their own unique colour and style, so even if with limited vision I was still able to make each character out. 

Despite my limited vision, I could not miss Widow Twankey with her over the top yet fun costumes and hairstyles.
I also found each song in the show recognisable and very easy to sing along with. 

Fabra Cadabra wearing a red glittering costume, is holding a glass ring looking all amazed.
Leonie Spilsbury
Photo By: Marc Brenner

Accessibility

Even if, (like myself) you are someone with very limited vision, I think you will have a wonderful time! 
There are some parts of the panto which rely upon visual gags but I think the show tries to make sure that you hardly miss anything, including jokes and the storyline. 

I am not sure about a touch tour this year due to health and safety regulations but I did not contact the theatre to ask.
I would like to see more audio described performances. The show is running for a few months and I feel that one is just not enough.

As I said at the beginning of the review, I have seen so many pantomimes performed at The Mercury and this is the best I have ever seen!
Tickets are selling fast, so get yours soon from The Mercury Theatre’s website: here


Aladdin is running from 27th November until 16th January 2022

Trust me when I say, go get your tickets now!

Until Next Time

The VI Critic

Why ‘Alt Text’ Is Awesome! – #DescribeThePic

Hi all,

Today we all take looking at photos on websites and social media is something we take for granted. But for people who are Blind or Low Vision can be really difficult if someone doesn’t take the time to describe that photos.

Screen Readers

But how exactly do Blind or Low Vision people look at these photos? Well people with Low Vision might choose to use Zoom features to be able to look at a photo or read some text, but it’s a little different for people you have no vision at all. People with no vision use something called a ‘Screen Reader’. A ‘Screen Reader’ is a piece of software, that can either be built into a device like all Apple iOS or Mac products, or in some cases android too. This little of software reads all things on the screen to a Blind person, whether that be text messages, the weather, or even ebooks. But it will always read ‘Alt Text’ on websites to describe photos. 

Alt Text

‘Alt Text’ is a simple piece of code on a website that allows people to add descriptions to photos which Screen Readers can read if the person has ‘Voice Over’ on, but it embedded into the photos, so it is hidden by sight users to your website (social media alt text will be covered below). Websites like ‘Wordpress’ make it very easy to allow owners of a website to add descriptions to photos. For more information on adding alt text to your wordpress website you can click here!

Here are two examples, the first image doesn’t have Alt Text, but the image underneath does:

Photo shows a photo of me and Guide Dog Blossom sitting in a house garden posing for a photo. Blossom is wear her Guide Dog harness.

Social Media

So adding ‘Alt Text to photos to tweets on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook is so, so easy, and even more important now more and more people are now using social media even more! So below I am going to give you some instructions on how to add Alt Text for each of these websites:

Twitter

So adding Alt Text to your photos along with your tweets is as follows:

  1. Firstly, click or tap on the compose tweet button, type out your tweet, then at the bottom, tap or click on the add photos button.
  2. Once you have selected the image, at the bottom right of the thumbnail of the image, there is an alt text button, once tap or clicked another window will appear where you can typed on the description of the photos. 
  3. Once you have typed on the description, then just tap or click then done button, then just tap or click the tweet button.

Instagram

Adding descriptions to your instagram photos goes like this:

  1. Tap on the ‘add photo’ cross at the top right of the app, the dice on the photo.
  2. Once you have added a filter if you chose to, then once the ‘New Post’ window appears click or tap the ‘advanced settings’ option that the very bottom of all the options on the page.
  3. Once there, scroll all the way down the ‘accessibility’ section, under that is the ‘write alt text’ button, tap on that. once there it gives you a huge section for you to be as descriptive as you like! The more descriptive the better!

Facebook

Unfortunately, Facebook does not have a way for you to embed the description into the photo. So the only way around this is to add a photo description underneath your post along with the photo, with the words ‘photo description’ along with the description of the photo.

Adding Alt Text, to photos to some might be an extra thing you have to when you ‘just want to post an image to your friends’. But just taking this little extra step before pressing share. Means that everyone can enjoy your photos including people with vision loss!

I have had the massive honour and privilege, on not doing this post alone! This post has been part of a campaign called #DescribeThePic along with the brilliant Siobhan Meade creator of the YouTube channel ‘Blind Girl Vlogs’ an channel of which you can find here or her twitter here. But also the wonderful Emily Davison who creates fashion and all things Visually Impaired blog posts and videos on her website, YouTube channel, and twitter whom I have follow for a while and it has been a joy to work with!

Thank you Siobhan and Emily for having me! I’ve enjoyed it so much!

I know this is complexly different to what normally post about, but this a topic which is near and dear to me, so I was something that when asked I really wanted to get involved with. So I hope you have got something out of this, and hopefully next time you post an image to social media or website.

If you decided to post a photo in the near future, or decide to make video or blog post also on this same subject, then please do so. I’d would love to hear what you guys think about this! But then you do, please use the hashtag #DescribeThePic on social media, that way people can also see your creations and your opinions too!

Due to world pandemic as many have seen, the theatre industry is none existent! So I am not sure when my next post is going to be, as there will be no Pantomime post this year. But I want to take this time to wish all a Very Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!!

Until Next Time!

The VI Critic