Putting the spotlight on classic villains has been a growing trend in recent years, with Wicked showing us that Dorothy was the true villain all again (Who steals a dead womans shoes?). Meanwhile, Disney got on board with their Maleficent and Cruella movies, putting the baddie front and centre. Another Disney villain gets a similar treatment now with the return of Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch.
Brought to you by the multi-award winning Fat Rascal Theatre and Wildpark Entertainment, Unfortunate tells the side of the story of Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Having previously sold out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe and around the UK., it has now pitched up in London for a limited season as part of the Underbelly Festival ahead of a UK tour later this year.
Let’s get one thing straight – this isn’t the heart-warming story of the little mermaid who loses her voice you all know and love. If you’re thinking of bringing your own little ones along to this one, think again. Gloriously filthy and wickedly funny, this is one Disney twist with adults in mind.
Written by Robyn Grant and Daniel Foxx, Unfortunate cleverly begins with Ursula’s own backstory before tying in to the events of The Little Mermaid. Here, Ariel and Prince Eric are in competition for who is the dumbest while Ursula pulls all the strings, remaining in everyones mind even when she is off stage. The writing is simply genius, with some brilliant one liners, punchlines and even a smattering of fish jokes. If you are offended by four letter words and graphic dialogues about sex, well that’s unfortunate for you as this show has plenty to offer. I for one loved every minute of it.
The role of Ursula is usually played by Elliotte Williams-N’Dure who I got a tantalising taste of at West End LIVE last month. However, for this performance I had a unique experience as writer and original Ursula Robyn Grant stepped in to the role. One of the most iconic characters in the Disney universe, she is every bit as iconic and badass as you would expect, bringing even more to the legendary character in a truly fabulous portrayal.
Miracle Chance gives a delightful portrayal as Disney Princess Ariel, reigning in her usually beautiful voice for questionable tones which doesn’t make anybody miss it when she loses it. Jamie Mawsons performance is as big as his bulge as he wonderfully channels the very worst of Prince Eric while Allie Munro is scene-stealing as a very Irish Sebastian. George Whitty is a standout as Triton, with a beefed up story giving his own moments to take centre stage and shine (not hard with a chest covered in glitter) while Jack Gray gets some hilarious moments as Scuttle.
The songs are as bonkers as they are brilliant. With musical arrangements and orchestrations by Tim Gilvin, they boast some creative twists on songs you know and love from the movie, ‘Kiss The Girl’ cleverly becomes about consent while you may never be able to listen to the much loved ‘Part Of Your Word’ the same way again, after hearing the lyrics changed to ‘Where The Dicks Are’. One standout song is the empowering ‘Female Role Models’ while you can’t help but smile at the utterly ridiculous ‘We Didn’t Make It To Disney’.
While it may be staged inside a big purple tent, the staging is fairly effective. Designed by Abby Clarke, it replicates being under the sea with some fun props, while lighting from Douglas Kuhrt elevates the piece with some fabulous effects. There’s even bubbles too – great if you’re as easily pleased as I am! Abby Clarke and Hugh Purves are also responsible for some truly great puppetry which ensures Unfortunate is always a visual feast.
If Ursula is a legendary icon in her own right, Unfortunate manages to create a show worthy of her glory. Consistently hilarious, this filthy and gorgeous show ticks all the boxes to create a truly fun night at the theatre. Don’t be one of those poor unfortunate souls who miss seeing this and live to regret it. If you are able to, get yourself a ticket and prepare to have your sides split.
Unfortunate plays at Underbelly, Earls Court until July 16th. It then tours from August. Full dates and tickets available at https://fatrascaltheatre.com/tour-dates-tickets/
Photos by Craig Sugden (Photos depict Elliotte Williams-N’Dure as Ursula)