Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula The Sea Witch.


Unfortunate does to the Little Mermaid what Wicked did to The Wizard of Oz. Fat Rascal Theatre Company take the story you think you know and turns it on its head. Unfortunate reveals that at one point Ursula and King Triton were lovers torn apart by Triton’s father. If this wasn’t enough Ursula’s treatment of Ariel is at the bequest of her father in order to ensure that she is ready to take the throne.

I’m a big fan of flipping well known stories on their head and Unfortunate does this masterfully. The Ursula/Ariel perception is reversed as Ariel is turned into a basic bitch obsessed with how she looks and woefully unaware as to the value of her voice. Ursula in the other hand is a strong female fighting for the survival of those living in the sea and battling against people’s perception of how a woman should look, or indeed how much she should weigh. This gives Unfortunate a brilliant way in to commentate on many issues whilst still making the audience laugh. The script is witty with numerous wry observations, for example Ursula states if a man had been as ruthless as her he would have been given an OBE!

The songs themselves are razor sharp. They all have the audience laughing before realising that many of them have a more serious message. Ask the Girl, set to the familiar tune of Kiss The Girl, is all about gaining a woman’s consent and Make it to Disney tells the tale of those who don’t have the right look or accent for the Disney movies!

Ursula herself is played by co-writer Robyn Grant. She delivers Ursula with a huge serving of sass and oozes sex appeal (no easy feat when wearing a costume of tentacles). Her Ursula is unashamedly confident and when asked why she doesn’t morph into something more attractive she declares she is fabulous as she is, which causes the audience to erupt into spontaneous applause.

The rest of the cast play a variety of roles, Katie Wells takes on the iconic role of Ariel, except we find out that her true desires are rather more ‘X’ rated than Disney would have us believe! Allie Munro took on Sebastian the crab (now Irish rather than Jamaican) and Jamie Mawson was Eric, who had his head turned rather swiftly, something that Ursula was keen to point out to Ariel, but to no avail. The final member of the cast was Steffan Rizzi who was Triton, blue glitter beard and all. All of the cast embraced the bold and funny script and had me eager to find out how their version of the story would unveil.

In Edinburgh fringe reviews I often don’t mention costume or set in the knowledge that budgets are tight but Fat Rascal Theatre company were so brilliantly inventive with both that they deserve a mention. Simple ideas such as blue netting depicted fins and Ursulas’ costume, all tentacles and corset was a work of art.

Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula The Sea Witch is a brilliant show, a laugh out loud retelling of this classic with clever social commentary. I will never look at the Little Mermaid the same way again….in fact I think I prefer this version.

Unfortunate is playing at Ermintrude, Underbelly Bristo Square from 18:55 – 20:05. To find out more about the show visit their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of You and I, Scream Phone and Vulvarine (also by Fat Rascal Theatre).

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