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Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid review at the Hub, Edinburgh – ‘idiosyncratic and uplifting’

Meow Meow's Little Mermaid at the Hub, Edinburgh. Photo: Pia Johnson Meow Meow's Little Mermaid at the Hub, Edinburgh. Photo: Pia Johnson

“This is a show about happiness,” Meow Meow tells us at the start of her idiosyncratic take on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, The Little Mermaid. The cabaret sensation, occasional Kneehigh collaborator and Edinburgh International Festival regular doesn’t adapt the source material so much as use it as a diving board from which to plunge into a show about the slipperiness of love.

She dons a slinky fish tale and gilded flippers and constructs a prince from mannequin parts. Then she swings and spins above the stage while singing glorious versions of Black’s Wonderful Life and Regina Spektor’s Apres Moi supported by the Siren Effect Orchestra.

It’s very funny stuff, combining clowning and circus with song. It’s also pretty astute about desire, as Meow Meow ends up smitten with an Australian handyman (played by the amiable Chris Ryan). She does not give up her voice though: she does not relinquish her tongue. Instead she ends up hobbled, clopping round the stage on one stiletto and one red pointe shoe.

If you’ve seen her before, some of the material will be familiar – she crowd surfs, she makes the audience do her bidding, she demands bigger, better bubbles, she sings a soaring cover of Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees – but it doesn’t matter much, she’s an entertainer of force and finesse and this is a cracking show, bittersweet in places, magical in others.

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Uplifting night of cabaret inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale