Unfortunate – the Musical

Reviewer's rating

I am constantly amazed and impressed by fringe theatre and what can be achieved with a simplistic set and costume when the acting and concept are so strong. I was lucky enough to see Fat Rascal Theatre’s ‘Buzz’ a few years ago and was blown away by its catchy, clever and comedic songs and an incredible cast, so when I saw that they were returning to Sheffield with a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid I was thrilled. Fat Rascal Theatre once again delivered a knockout, sell out, and outrageously funny performance telling the untold story of Ursula: ‘Disney villain, Octo-woman and Plus-size icon.’

The acting in the show was phenomenal, Allie Munro as Ursula was larger than life delivering the feminist message of sex-positivity, self-love and using your voice to bring about social change through her powerful, bombastic songs, especially her rap parody of ‘Poor unfortunate souls’. Ariel was a perfectly hilarious airhead with a grating yet endearing Essex accent, embodying the modern rebellious and randy teenager. The rewritten and lewd version of ‘Part of Your World’, changed to ‘I want to be where the dicks are’ had the audience in raucous fits of laughter. Moreover, Eric was another standout performance as a bumbling man child all too eager to seduce Ariel, or as he knew her: ‘speechless woman’.

The use of puppetry throughout was quirky, stylised and effective, combined with the use of simplistic but successful, especially Ursula’s tentacles and the use of netting to symbolise mermaids tails. The set was limited to 5 set pieces with shimmery streamers behind which the cast could do quick changes in order to multirole, each actor conveying at least 3 distinct characters each. The music and lyrics were tongue in cheek, sassy and relatable, engaging the audience from the opening note.

The feminist message was strong through specifically in the shrewd parody for the Me Too age ‘Ask Before Your Kiss The Girl’. The entire play was a criticism of the toxic heteronormative, whitewashed, patriarchal messages perpetuated by Disney movies, epitomised through the fish puppets singing ‘We didn’t make it to Disney’, highlighting how diversity is actively excluded from Disney films. This show is exactly the representation we need in a culture that still drives the message of thin and white as the ideal beauty standard, for women to raise their voices against the patriarchy and love themselves whatever they look like.

Overall, this vivacious show was hysterical and powerful with a skilled cast conveying a well-known story from a completely new and innovative perspective. As they approach their upcoming run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival I highly recommend seeing this show if you want an evening of laughter, feminism and tentacles.