Review: Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula The Sea Witch at The Hawth

I will start this review with a warning, it’s very hard (sorry!) to talk about Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch without any innuendo.
Shawna Hamic as UrsulaShawna Hamic as Ursula
Shawna Hamic as Ursula

When one of the first lines includes a joke about ‘a boatful of seamen’, you know you are in for a very naughty and fun night. Fresh from complete sell out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe and around the UK, Unfortunate is a parody musical telling the story of Disney’s The Little Mermaid’s villain Ursula and what really happened under the sea, for kids this is not (there is a strict 16+ rating).

Not only is it hard to review without innuendo, it’s also very hard (not sorry this time) to review the show without mentioning things that let it down – and I want to get this out of the way first.

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The sound in first act seemed very problematic and it was hard to tune in to the sings. There was one song with great puppets but the only word I could make out was ‘Disney’. I am sure it was very funny, but there was no way of telling – and I wasn’t the only one who had issues after hearing a few mutterings at interval.

It seemed to sort itself a bit in the second act but was still not perfect. It’s such a shame as I don’t feel I got the full Unfortunate experience.

With that out of the way, here are the good things – and there are plenty of them. Shawna Hamic (Orange is the New Black, 1776 on Broadway) was a force of nature as Ursula and River Medway (RuPaul’s Drag Race UK) had great fun as Ariel, playing her as an Essex mermaid.

Thomas Lowe as an absolute hoot as Triton, but also showed off his vocal talents, especially on To Be King. And Allie Dart was brilliant as Sebastian, the chef and host of other characters. Her Les Poissons was a comedic masterclass. Jamie Mawson was also funny as the imbecilic Prince Eric.

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The songs were an eclectic mix with the 80s rock ballad of Sucking on You, Euro pop with Unfortunate, and the perfect Disney pastiche with Where the Dicks Are.

The costumes, the puppets, the set and the choreography were as colourful as the Disney animation it is based on and there were lots of topical references with the odd nod to other Disney films (Bambi’s mum’s grave anyone?).

I can imagine Unfortunate getting a cult following like The Rocky Horror Show or Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens – it’s camp, rude, funny, messed-up and a lot of fun – but it’s just a shame we didn’t get the full experience. Hopefully the second night will go without a hitch.

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