Tag Archives: Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch

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

 

 

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