Provocative, crude and iconic, Fat Rascal Theatre’s production of Unfortunate is nothing short of a showstopper. With book and lyrics by Robyn Grant and Daniel Foxx and music by Tim Gilvin, this show is the empowering salve of feminism and body-positivity that we desperately need.
Narrated by everyone’s favourite octo-woman, Unfortunate takes us through Ursula’s (Elliotte Williams-N’Dure) story, from her banishment from Atlantica, to her contract with Triton (George Whitty) to prepare his daughter, Ariel (Miracle Chance) to take the throne. Carefully side-stepping any copyright issues, Unfortunate is a triumphant and comedic re-interpretation of a much-loved film for modern audiences.
Unfortunate is completely unapologetic in its bluntness, mixing nostalgia with modern-day issues. From Abby Clarke’s set design to costuming by Cory Shipp, the accompaniment by a wide variety of puppets designed by Abby Clarke and High Purves, this show is a completely immersive experience that utilises everything at its disposal to add to the humour and tone of the show. Grant, Foxx and Gilvin’s songs are another thing altogether. With original pieces like We Didn’t Make It To Disney and Female Role Models, the score is memorable and pokes fun at the issues and Disney in a way that audiences that have grown up with The Little Mermaid will appreciate. Coupled with Melody Sinclair’s choreography, it is unstoppable, mesmerising genius.
The cast is stunning, absolutely indescribable in everything they do. They meet the demand of the piece and it is hard to imagine the show without any one of them. Each brings their multiple characters to life and their combined comedic powers makes it impossible to look away. Every actor teaches us a lesson through their performance, but in a way that is incredibly fun and original. Williams-N’Dure narrates the piece, playing with the audience. Her cheekiness, overall confidence and simmering rage is littered with euphemism and sarcasm, but this only increases her likeability, to the point where it’s hard to imagine the character as a villain at all. Williams-N’Dure keeps us on our toes by adding a vulnerability to Ursula which we wouldn’t expect after everything we know about the character up to that point. She teaches us how to love ourselves and not to underestimate our power, and because of her performance, we leave the performance feeling a lot better than when we first arrived. Allie Munro, who plays Sebastian and Vanessa among some others, is a force of nature. Munro’s talent is immeasurable. Switching flawlessly between accents, registers and personas, she never once misses a beat, and her fleshed-out portrayal of Vanessa is by far the most interesting interpretation that is out there.
The Little Mermaid was first intended as a love letter for someone without a voice, unable to tell the person they loved the things they needed to say. Unfortunate honours this in ways we could not even imagine, and is very much a love letter to everyone who has felt powerless or marginalised or judged for being who they are. A modern show for a modern audience.