By Aline Mahrud
WORTH A LOOK?: **** RUNTIME: 140 minutes (including 20-minute interval)
WHEN?: Sunday 3 July (matinee), running to 16 July 2022. Goes to Edinburgh Festival before a UK tour.
Take the villainess from Disney’s Little Mermaid, pepper her backstory with feminist credentials and you have this part-parody new musical with some hugely memorable songs.
- Read on for reasons including how to see this new musical around the UK this year
It’s not in the same league as Wicked‘s retelling of The Wizard Of Oz but it is occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, thought-provoking and very rude.
Regular readers will know that this musical’s 5-song highlights were a mini album of the month for us back in 2020’s lockdown.
While those songs very much remain the big numbers in this show there is still much else around them that delights.
We’ve already highlighted Nasty which serves as a brilliant introduction to our star. Theatre company Fat Rascal is always unafraid to venture where others might fear to dare and so we have Ursula’s: ‘What’s that smell?’ Well girls, it’s my natural musk. I call it plus-size villainess performing at dusk.’
The group is no stranger to this site having already won the Best New Musical monsta in 2019 for Vulvarine while a year later we saw its Waiter! There’s A Murder In My Soup.
Fat Rascal has certainly upped its game post pandemic and a 3-strong band joins the actors onstage in this portable venue.
Plotwise we rewind 20 years to find our unapologetic heroine framed by the father of her lover Triton and then banished from the kingdom of Atlantica.
Fast forward 20 years and Triton’s mermaid daughter Ariel is discovering her sexuality and lusting after men and her spoof of – ‘what’s that word?’ – well-loved song Part Of Your World is here reimagined rather crudely as Where The Dicks Are, with a hook of: ‘I wanna be where the dicks are.’
Versatile ensemble player Jamie Mawson has a lot of fun in multiple roles not least as manchild Prince Eric who woos Ariel as she trades her voice for legs to go ashore. Particularly funny is his Anchorman-like enthusiasm for his trouser-kept flute.
There’s also a very funny running gag about environmentalism and littering the sea with plastic and ‘poos’ which hits a new high at this performance when Mawson mistakenly throws his cup at a member of the band rather than in the ‘sea’.
The rest of the cast is as strong and we enjoyed Allie Dart for her puppetry but also number Hot Girl Summer when she seeks to steal the prince from Ariel.
Another running joke is that everyone gets Ariel’s name wrong and Miracle Chance (Be More Chill, Shaftesbury Theatre) has a lot of fun with the part. George Whitty as Triton is an accomplished singer and Elliotte Williams- N’Dure who we saw in Sylvia at the Old Vic is clearly destined for a bright, bold and gigantic future.
Special mention also to Jack Gray who has a lot of fun as a pollution-addled seagull and rounds out this fine cast.
For us though, the real stars are the writers, with music by Tim Gilvin and book and lyrics by Robyn Grant, who also directs, and Daniel Foxx. We can’t wait to catch whatever they dream up next because as Ursula might say we’d guarantee it would be ‘naugh-ty’.