Tag Archives: Wildpark Entertainment

Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch A Musical Parody


Southwark Playhouse Elephant

UNFORTUNATE at Southwark Playhouse Elephant


“This is a very funny show indeed, complemented beautifully by Tim Gilvin’s pastiche score”

Everybody loves a villain. Which is why, in recent years, our favourite Disney miscreants have stepped forward to take centre stage in their stories, such as ‘Cruella’ from The One Hundred and One Dalmatians, or ‘Maleficent’ from Sleeping Beauty. They usually remain the villain, relishing the boos and hisses that feed them. But what if they want to convince you that, at heart, they weren’t the ‘bad guy’ after all. A large chunk of “Unfortunate: the Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch” allows Ursula to present her mitigating circumstances. She ain’t ‘bad’ really. But she is ‘badass’.

Shawna Hamic well and truly gets the jury on her side as the loveable ‘octogirl’, tearing up our preconceptions of the hag and throwing them overboard. She captains the ship, steering the show through the scandals, sex and subversive salaciousness of the story. It is a choppy sea, whipped up by hailstorms of catchy tunes, slapstick, jokes, innuendo and overblown, camp-as-Christmas performances. The production has come a long way from its Edinburgh Fringe origins, mooring up in Southwark before embarking on a nationwide tour in the New Year. Its growth in popularity seems unstoppable. Unfortunately, so does its growth in length, and somebody needs to step in to stem the swelling.

Having been treated to a potted backstory depicting Ursula and Triton growing up together, from squabbling schoolkids to teenage sweethearts, we dive into the crux of the tale. Following the unfortunate dissection of a sea cucumber named Kirsty, Ursula is framed and banished to the dark waters of the ocean. Flash forward twenty years and Triton, a single dad, is having a hard time with his youngest daughter, Ariel. Thomas Lowe, all glitter and beard, is a delightfully dumb king of the sea who fails to rein in his daughter’s sexual curiosities. Or rather, in Ariel’s own words, her desire to be ‘where the dicks are’ (one of the many earworm numbers). River Medway is the lewd and lascivious Ariel who falls for Jamie Mawson’s dumber than dumb Prince Eric. To get the man though, the woman must ‘lose her voice’ – so croons Ursula in one of the many satirical messages that pepper the production.

Among the high camp, excessive and heightened delivery, a standout performance is Allie Dart, as Sebastian the crab. Swapping the Jamaican accent for Irish, Dart pinpoints – and joins in – the joyful ridiculousness of it all. Doubling up as Colette the French chef, she delivers another of the musical highlights, ‘Les Poissons’, which showcases the intelligence of the text and lyrics that is often drowned in the waves of razzamatazz. But as a spectacle, “Unfortunate…” is an absolute triumph. Abby Clarke is the unseen star of the show, whose set, costume and puppetry are worth the ticket price alone.

There is nothing Disney about this show whatsoever, a fact that is wondrously celebrated in the number ‘We Didn’t Make it Disney’. The writers, Robyn Grant and Daniel Foxx, have no eye on the family audience at all. But they do have an eye for comedy. This is a very funny show indeed, complemented beautifully by Tim Gilvin’s pastiche score. Chaotic and camp, full of sex and sorcery, mayhem and madness, it is an oceanic treat. You can’t just dip your toe in, you need to dive headlong. The shock as it washes over you is exhilarating and invigorating. Go on, take the plunge. You’ll need stamina to weather the storm (yes – I’ve mentioned it already – it does overstretch itself) but it is worth it.

UNFORTUNATE at Southwark Playhouse Elephant

Reviewed on 14th December 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Pamela Raith




Previously reviewed at this venue:

Garry Starr Performs Everything | ★★★½ | December 2023
Lizzie | ★★★ | November 2023
Manic Street Creature | ★★★★ | October 2023
The Changeling | ★★★½ | October 2023
Ride | ★★★ | July 2023
How To Succeed In Business … | ★★★★★ | May 2023
Strike! | ★★★★★ | April 2023
The Tragedy Of Macbeth | ★★★★ | March 2023
Smoke | ★★ | February 2023
The Walworth Farce | ★★★ | February 2023



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