Another overly sweet Disney story about a princess who falls in love? Nah, wrong address. “Unfortunate: the Untold Story of Ursula The Sea Witch” is a sarcastic, loud, and sexy story of the classic villain. If you liked the vibe of “Cruella” the movie, its soundtrack, and its strong female hero, you’ve got to get tickets to this one!
Let’s scuba-dive into Ursula the Sea Witch’s life!
The story in the first act covers the part of Ursula’s life that happened before the “Little Mermaid” timeline. We scuba-dive deeper into her life, as she travels to the Kingdom of Atlantis to meet King Triton, and that’s when the big action starts (I won’t reveal more, wouldn’t want to spoil the fun!). The second act is the retelling of the story of Ariel but from Ursula’s point of view. This way, the show found a way to balance out the new story with something we are all familiar with (it even plays with familiar songs and tunes from the Disney movie).
A true “guilty pleasure” puppets show… but not for kids
The cast is a strong team of 6, but we see the whole array of characters and sea creatures on the stage – all thanks to skillful quick changes, but also a variety of puppets. And oh, the puppets! From Lion King-Esque birds flying on poles, through ridiculously funny gay sea eels, to Eric’s dog (once you see it, you’ll burst into laughter, I guarantee). The actors handle them all, while at the same time the sarcastic and punny humour takes away any “panto” similarities. Because yes, it’s a show about mermaids, but no – it’s not for kids.
Why not for kids, you ask? Well, let’s say you’ll hear more than just one juicy “fuck” shouted from the stage, there are lots of sex-related dialogues, and even a whole song about “Where the boys with dicks are”, emotionally sung by Ariel. An unusual statue with a feature that you won’t be able to miss will be also making an appearance, so yeah – it’s probably not a show for anyone under 18 years old.
Justice for the deep-sea creatures!
The show is filled with catchy songs – my firm favourite being the titular “How Unfortunate”, with an upbeat rhythm, strong percussion, and even whistles, giving it a bit of a Rio Carnival vibe. A song that definitely will stay in everyone’s mind is “We Didn’t Make it to Disney”, an anthem of the deep-water, conventionally “ugly” creatures that did not get their chance to show their um-pretty faces in the movie. Plus “Female Role Models” – a tango-based melody with such a message, and an epic rap featuring names of powerful females by the end. (this last one could even get featured in “Fantastically Great Women“)
The show is also incredibly self-aware, throwing puns about poor actors, Disney’s movie standards and consistently making fun of Ariel (“sounds like a detergent to me”). Such a bliss.
Standing ovation for Robyn Grant and Jack Gray!
I saw the show on Saturday on the day of West End Live so some of the cast were busy twerking their pretty butts in Trafalgar Square (understandably, people of London deserve to get to know Ursula!). I had the immense pleasure to see Robyn Grant (the show’s co-writer and director) playing Ursula, and Jack Gray starring as Triton. Robyn owned the stage, and had so much charisma! Her Ursula was strong, witty, and sexy, and she looked gorgeous in the signature black tentacled outfit (this costume is a showstopper!). Jack Grey portrayed an interesting role of an emotionally torn king, but also a very lost father in need of female support. Love how the show turns the classic Disney archetypes into their head: it’s Ursula who needs to fix issues in the Kingdom because the King can’t do it himself. You go, girl!
There were some minor sound issues and mic issues during the show – I have missed out on a couple of puns, simply because I couldn’t hear them properly. I suppose the people in the front rows were the only ones without this problem. But this was the only drawback I could see in the show!
To sum up, “Unfortunate” is a fabulous way to spend a night out with your (adult) friends. Grab a drink, and just remember to place it on the chair or floor – I laughed so much, I spilled mine 😛 But yeah, that’s a sign of a great show, isn’t it?
PS I’ve heard that the soundtrack with the cast recording is coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled on Fat Rascal’s social media! The show is also going to tour the UK, so catch them performing soon in Manchester, Edinburgh and many other places. Details here.
Book and Lyrics: Robyn Grant & Daniel Foxx
Music, Arrangements & Orchestrations: Tim Gilvin
Directed by Robyn Grant
Choreography by Melody Sinclair
Musical Director: Arlene McNaught
Ticket price: £25
21 Jun – 16 Jul 2022
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