Reviewed by Matthew Forrest
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
There is a famous Monty Python sketch called The Fish Slapping Dance, whereby Michael Palin slaps John Cleese in the face with two tiny fish, whilst performing an absurd little jig, only for Cleese to retaliate with a massive slap to Palin’s face with a huge trout! Now I know this isn’t the normal way to begin a review but after watching Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula The Sea Witch, you’ll feel like you’ve been walloped over the head by something bigger than a giant trout! Vulgar, absurd, and hilarious, this in-your-face musical parody is as crude as it is fun and I loved it, and dare I say so would the Python team too!
With cinematic releases from Disney such Maleficent and Cruella, told from the point of the villain proving to be a huge commercial successes, Fat Rascal Theatre’s march on the Mouse-eared media Megalodon with their alternative take on everyone’s favourite sea witch, is also proving to be a huge audience favourite.
In this retelling, the action rewinds 20 years: Ursula, is a sassy, no nonsense strong woman, who heads to Atlantica in the hope that a marriage with the Kings son, Triton will save the kingdom. However the course, of true love doesn’t run smoothly, first some body shaming aimed at our straight talking heroine, followed by being framed for murder, sees Ursula exiled from Atlantica
Fast Forward 20 years, Triton returns to his former lover, in need of her help with his daughter, Ariel. Ariel is his only living heir and will inherit the kingdom, however it’s fair to say Ariel isn’t quite ready to be a reigning monarch, more interested in men, and what they have between their legs than ruling the sea. Will Ursula’s plan work and make Ariel, become the princess those Disney bigwigs want her to be?
This production is an absolute riot from start to finish: catchy, no nonsense show tunes with big laughs, not just there because they have to be but there because they enhance the plot. Stand out numbers include the crude, but hilarious, Where the Dicks Are, the scene setting Nasty, and my personal favourite, We Didn’t Make it to Disney.
The cast more than matches the excellent written material. Allie Dart-Munro as Ursula, gets the balance of sass and vulnerability just right. Whilst George Whitty as Triton, has a tremendous singing voice, hitting all the right notes. His is a dead-pan performance when compared to his co-stars. Miracle Chance is exceptional as Ariel, a gift at comedy, a real ‘jesters’ performance. Whilst Jamie Mawson as Eric, the handsome prince of the story is as OTT as he is ridiculous.
There is great support from Danni Payne and Jack Grey who play multiple characters and puppets including Sebastian the lobster, now sporting an Irish descent.
My only gripe really is the sound mix seemed off during the first half, with some of the lyrics lost in the mix, it was rectified following the interval, but I’m sure there were more laughs to be had if I could hear the gags.
With strong messages about body positivity, water pollution, the environment and #MeToo blended with a great deal of risque songs, and more ‘knob’, gags then the average Graham Norton monologue, this is highly entertaining and fun night at the theatre, just leave the kids at home with a babysitter and the subscription to a popular child friendly streaming platform would be my advice.
Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula The Sea Witch is at the Lowry till Saturday 10th September, tickets available here.