The team behind the vibrator musical Buzz turns its attention to the Disney canon. Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula, the Sea Witch offers a bawdy back story to Disney’s The Little Mermaid. All the hallmarks of Fat Rascal Theatre are present including playful musical arrangements from the gifted Tim Gilvin and a ballsy book and lyrics from Robyn Grant and Daniel Foxx. Essentially, the team do to The Little Mermaid what Wicked did to The Wizard of Oz, but with more cock jokes.
Unfortunate has laughs to spare and its score has a satisfying richness and diversity reminiscent of any of the strong Disney soundtracks. Abby Clarke’s puppet design adds a touch of anthropomorphic magic but Grant rightly dominates the stage as Ursula, putting some not inconsiderable vocal power behind some of the bigger numbers.
Grant and Foxx take aim at several easy targets, not least Disney itself, accusing it of racism, size-ism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. It’s light-hearted but also perhaps outdated, when you consider Disney’s recent casting and the fact that Disneyland Paris holds a Pride parade annually. Unfortunate also suggests that some monsters can overcome the bad rap they were given in their youth, but surely only if they are allowed to.