“Unfortunate” review

Unfortunate (photo by Pamela Raith)


Unfortunate. Birmingham Hippodrome.


Think you’ve seen The Little Mermaid? Think again.

Unfortunate is the “untold story” of Ursula the sea witch from the classic Disney movie. This isn’t a kids’ story though. This is dirty Disney!

Billed as a musical parody it retells the story of the much loved film but also serves a prequel to the story. We’re immediately introduced to the iconic villain Ursula – played by a majestically commanding Shawna Hamic – who takes us back to where it all began. We see Ursula as a child (when she first meets Triton), and then later as a high school student where she and Triton fall in love. Triton’s father Poseidon is not happy about this however and frames Ursula for the murder of a sea cucumber called Kirsty (stay with me!) and banishes her.

Fast forward 20 years and Triton is a widower with a 16 year old mermaid daughter called (you guessed it) Ariel. Here the story (mostly) follows the film – albeit hilariously parodied. Of course the Disney songs aren’t here but they really ALMOST are. They are VERY similar and reminiscent without being outright plagiarisms. They are also VERY naughty. If I tell you Ariel’s “Part Of Your World” has been replaced with “Where The Dicks Are” you can get the gist!

Playing Ariel is Drag Race UK’s River Medway who plays her like a character from TOWIE which is just hilarious. Medway is a joy to watch throughout.

Thomas Lowe plays Triton, donned in a green unitard, managing to both ham it up and belt out a song equally well (his voice is superb).

Jamie Mawson plays Eric – the dashing prince. He’s great fun, playing him so narcissistically that getting the prince may not be what Ariel wants after all (no spoilers!).

A special mention must go to Allie Dart who plays Sebastian and the French chef (sometimes at the same time!) and also one of Ursula’s sidekick eels. She is outstandingly talented and a real crowd-pleaser (her Les Poissons number is a show highlight). Also deserving of a mention is Julian Capolei who plays Eric’s steward Grimsby as well as Ursula’s human alter ego Vanessa ( adorned with a moustache for both!). His energy as the latter was amazing. Again – outstandingly talented.

The whole cast are fabulous and work so hard throughout. There is a great use of puppetry in the show and the cast are wonderful at bringing these to life. The script is very clever and littered with related jokes and pop culture references (we even got “Angela Bassett did the thing” – if you know you know!). There are many laugh out loud moments.

Ursula was inspired by 80’s drag queen Divine, and Hamic very much keeps that vibe. The whole show has a wonderfully queer inclusion which is great to see in a show on this scale. The piece started out as a small Edinburgh Fringe show and within a few years is now a main house full scale musical. That’s not down to just witchcraft. The show obviously has legs (Or fins. Or tentacles).

It’s fun. It’s ingenious. It’s camptastic.


5 stars. A delicious parody of oceanic proportions.


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