Tag Archives: Fat Rascal Theatre

Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch

★★★★★

Underbelly Bristo Square

Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch

Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch

Underbelly Bristo Square

Reviewed – 3rd August 2019

★★★★★

 

“Grant and Foxx continue to prove themselves one of the most talented writing duos off West End”

 

Fans of Disney’s The Little Mermaid will recall the villain Ursula being sent to her watery grave at the end of the film, defeated by the righteous Prince Eric and Ariel. But what if things weren’t what they seemed? What if we don’t know the whole story, or even the half of it?

Fat Rascal Theatre propose the following version of events instead: One – Ursula is not evil. Prejudice against plus-sized, outspoken octo-women in Atlantica, and a serious misunderstanding involving a sea cucumber, lead to her banishment. Two – twenty years later, a desperate King Triton comes to her for help with his wayward daughter Ariel. All she thinks about is boys! She even has a crush on a human one now! If Ursula can help teach her a lesson, Triton will lift her banishment. Three – Ursula’s plan is to teach Ariel strength and independence by allowing her to discover that her voice is more important than any boy.

Unfortunate is big, purple, fabulous, and perfect. Written by Robyn Grant and Daniel Foxx, and devised by the company, this musical parody is a glorious, shimmery bid for the vindication of Ursula the Sea Witch in a celebration of feminism and body positivity. The songs are brilliant (Grant, Foxx, and Tim Gilvin): “How Unfortunate” is a banger, “Ask Her First” is genius, and Prince Eric’s flute song will wring tears of laughter from you.

Grant is grandiose, slick, and badass as the empowered octo-woman. Steffan Rizzi is winsome as the earnest King Triton. Katie Wells (Ariel) and Jamie Mawson (Prince Eric) are hilarious as the “braindead lovers”, and Allie Munro is an endearing Irish Sebastian. High-energy performances and excellent multi-roling across the board. All of the vocals are top-notch (Wells even nails singing dreadfully off-key as a tone-deaf Ariel). Abby Clarke’s puppets are delightfully funny (Max in particular steals the show).

Having worked together on multiple previous hits, Grant and Foxx continue to prove themselves one of the most talented writing duos off West End. Ursula’s backstory is ingenious regarding how well it explains the events of the film. There’s a natural comparison to Wicked in Unfortunate’s appeal to redeem a famous villain. Having seen both I’m somewhat surprised to say I find Unfortunate’s story more convincing. It’s a more logical, organic fit to the original work’s content. And not only have Grant and Foxx credibly overhauled the plot of The Little Mermaid, they’ve remedied all of the misogyny in the original film. It’s a mic-drop achievement. For what may sound like just a silly spoof, the level of craft and sophistication behind the book and lyrics of this show is seriously impressive.

Unfortunate is seventy minutes of non-stop fun and hilarity. Book early. This will undoubtedly be one of the top shows in Edinburgh this year.

 

Reviewed by Addison Waite

Photography by Matt Cawrey

 


Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch

Underbelly Bristo Square until 26th August as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019

 

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Vulvarine

Vulvarine
★★★★★

King’s Head Theatre & UK Tour

Vulvarine

Vulvarine

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 13th June 2019

★★★★★

 

“Bryony Buckle may be ‘astoundingly average’ but Vulvarine’s cast and direction are anything but”

 

Vulvarine: A New Musical is a superhero comic musical parody which tells the story of Bryony Buckle (Allie Munro), a young woman who lives an exceedingly ordinary life in the uneventful town of High Wycombe. Bryony checks tax codes by day and sips red wine with her cat Elton (Robyn Grant) by night. That is, however, before she is transformed into the superhero Vulvarine following a hormone injection at the doctor’s and a convenient lightning strike.

Following the discovery of an error in the tampon tax, Vulvarine, her best friend Poppy (Katie Wells) and her pretty boy love interest Orson Bloom (Jamie Mawson) must take on the misogynistic Mansplainer (Robyn Grant) and his wife Sonya (Steffan Rizzi) before women in High Wycombe and beyond are made subservient by his Hormone-a-beam.

Through Vulvarine: A New Musical, Artistic Director Robyn Grant aims to highlight the extensive use of hormonal medication amongst women. Grant herself was on the contraceptive pill for period pain from the age of fourteen and it was only ten years later that she became aware of its terrifying side effects. With the rising wave of abortion restrictions in America, Grant hopes Vulvarine will inspire women to take control of their own bodies and revolt against those who wish to restrict womankind. Despite these powerful themes, Vulvarine: A New Musical never takes itself too seriously and succeeds in engaging its audience with these important topics in a fun and light-hearted way.

Vulvarine: A New Musical is exceedingly funny. The cast take a little while to warm up, but the show is soon in full swing with a laugh a minute. The dialogue is quick and hyperaware of the superhero clichés it draws on. Instances of actors breaking the fourth wall such as when a stagehand lifts a chair to demonstrate Vulvarine’s super-strength before looking at the audience, going ‘oops!’ and running off stage are wonderfully humorous additions.

The stage consists of a simple cardboard townscape for most of the show but becomes more elaborate towards the performance’s end with the incorporation of a (cardboard) control panel and shark tank when the protagonists infiltrate Mansplainer’s lair. The props (Hugh Purves) are a lot of fun and include a plastic pigeon on a stick which transports Bryony and Poppy to a park bench and a muppet-style puppet acting as Elton the Cat. At times the stage does seem rather crowded, but the cast work well with the space they have.

Grant shines throughout and Munro is a strong lead. Wells, Mawson and Rizzi all provided excellent support with the former electrifying the stage with the solo ‘Boys will be Boys’. Other notable songs are the Avenue Q-esque ‘Licking My Anus’ performed by Elton the Cat and ‘Who’s that Girl’ performed by both Bryony and Poppy and nicely threaded throughout the musical in multiple reprises. Bryony Buckle may be ‘astoundingly average’ but Vulvarine’s cast and direction are anything but.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli

 


Vulvarine

King’s Head Theatre until 6th July then UK Tour continues

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Outlying Islands | ★★★★ | January 2019
Carmen | ★★★★ | February 2019
Timpson: The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019
The Crown Dual | ★★★★ | March 2019
Undetectable | ★★★★ | March 2019
Awkward Conversations With Animals … | ★★★★ | April 2019
HMS Pinafore | ★★★★ | April 2019
Unsung | ★★★½ | April 2019
Coral Browne: This F***Ing Lady! | ★★ | May 2019
This Island’s Mine | ★★★★★ | May 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com